'Passengers had negative test reports from certified labs': Air India after 19 passengers on Vande Bharat flight to Wuhan test positive for COVID-19

Nineteen Indian passengers tested positive for COVID-19 in a recent flight from New Delhi to the Chinese city of Wuhan under the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) on October 30.

Reacting to the reports, Air India told NDTV that it "strictly adheres to all safety protocols" and that all passengers on its Wuhan flight held negative Covid test reports from certified labs.

"All our passengers to Wuhan boarded the flight from Delhi with negative Covid reports from certified labs. Air India strictly adheres to all safety protocol laid down by regulatory bodies and conforms to requirements at destination airports," Air India told NDTV.

"There is no question of passengers boarding any of our flights without valid Covid reports," the airline stated.

According to reports, On October 30, 19 passengers on Air India's Vande Bharat flight to Wuhan tested positive for Covid-19 at Wuhan Airport, China. Besides the 19 Indians who tested positive, antibodies were found in the tests of 39 others. All 58 are believed to have been transferred to COVID-19 hospitals. All the Indian passengers needed to undergo two coronavirus tests before being permitted to board the flights.

The October 30 Air India flight, the sixth operated by India to China in recent months and the first to Wuhan where the virus emerged in December last year, brought 277 Indians from New Delhi and evacuated 157 on its return under India's mega mission to evacuate stranded Indians from abroad. As part of this process, Air India is planning to operate four flights to Delhi on November 13, 20, 27 and December 4, the Indian Embassy here announced.

As per the protocols circulated by Chinese officials, all those who tested positive will be referred to hospitals and will be released only after they test negative. Protocols also stipulate 14-day mandatory quarantine in the designated hotels for all those arriving in China.

There is a big rush for Vande Bharat flights from India to China as Beijing has recently lifted the temporary ban on holders of resident permit visas. About 1,500 to 2,000 Indians who are either working in China or connected to businesses want to return. Earlier, India operated three flights to Wuhan to airlift Indians stranded in the city when the virus was at its peak in the Chinese city in February this year.

(Inputs from Agencies)

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