Indians on board coronavirus-hit Japan ship return on Air India flight

A luxury cruise liner, with over 3,700 people aboard, was quarantined off Yokohama port in Japan on February 3. At least 700 people on the ship, including 12 Indians, had tested positive for coronavirus.

A special Air India flight, carrying over a hundred Indian crew members who were stranded onboard a coronavirus-hit quarantined cruise ship off Yokohama port in Japan, landed in New Delhi in the early hours of Thursday.

Taking to Twitter, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said, “Air India flight has just landed in Delhi from Tokyo, carrying 119 Indians and five nationals from Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa and Peru who were quarantined onboard the #DiamondPrincess due to #COVID19. Appreciate the facilitation of Japanese authorities. Thank you @airindiain once again.”

According to one crew member, a resident of West Bengal, those rescued will be quarantined for 14 days in New Delhi.

The 30-year-old, who hails from Hatipa village in West Bengal’s Uttar Dinajpur district, was among the Indian crew members on board the ship, Diamond Princess, which had 61 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.

He had earlier appealed to Indian authorities for help. In videos posted on social media, he reached out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, urging them to ask the Japanese government to separately quarantine those infected and uninfected on board the ship.

“The Indian Embassy in Tokyo and our company were trying to get us back, and last week we underwent tests. Recently, the test results came negative and showed that we are uninfected,” the 30-year-old said through WhatsApp. “Around 1 pm local time, 122 Indian crew, including me, disembarked and got into six buses at Yokohama port. We are being taken to Tokyo (Henada) airport.”

“We have been told that we will be kept in quarantine at a special facility for 14 more days and will undergo tests. Thereafter, we can return home,” he said.

Speaking to The Indian Express from Siliguri, the crew member’s brother said, “We are so happy that my brother is finally returning, and will be home in a few days. I spoke with him today. We will not go to Delhi since we will not be allowed to meet him — we will wait for his return home.”

Besides this, a special Indian Air Force flight also brought back 76 Indians from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Maldives, China, South Africa, USA and Madagascar, the foreign minister added.

“Seventy-six Indians and 36 nationals from 7 countries – Bangladesh, Myanmar, Maldives, China, South Africa, USA and Madagascar. Appreciate facilitation by the Chinese government,” he announced on the micro-blogging site.

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