Diamond Princess cruise ship
Diamond Princess cruise ship
(Photo by Philip FONG / AFP)

New Delhi/Beijing: China on Friday denied any delay in giving a special Indian flight permission to deliver medical and relief supplies and evacuate remaining Indians from Wuhan, the epicentre of corona virus.

These sources in Beijing, cited by PTI, were responding to an IANS report that China has decided to withhold permission to the special Indian flight.

IANS had cited sources as saying that China may have withheld permission because of "pressure" from Pakistan, which has been facing lot of criticism at home for its inability to rescue its citizens from Wuhan promptly.Asked why there is a delay in granting permission to the Indian flight, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told an online press briefing on Friday that China had assisted India earlier in evacuating a large number of Indians from Wuhan and Hubei province.

India had evacuated 647 Indians and seven Maldivians by operating two Special Air India flights to Wuhan earlier this month. On February 17, India announced that it will send the Indian Air Force's largest plane C-17 Globemaster with medical supplies to Wuhan and evacuate its remaining citizens and of the neighbouring countries.

Incidentally, the downtrend in coronavirus cases in China reversed on Friday after authorities reported hundreds of infections in prisons in Hubei province.

So far 77,000 people have been infected and 2,250 died due to the infection.Chinese President Xi Jinping, at a meeting of the Communist Party's Politburo on Friday, said that the situation in Hubei was still serious and the coronavirus epidemic had not reached its peak despite a drop in the daily number of infections.

Sources said that 14 people who recently died allegedly due to "chemical fumes" in Karachi had the same symptoms as Covid-19 infection -- pneumonia and cough. Pakistani health officials have now said that

"soybean dust from shipping containers and not a toxic gas leak", was likely responsible for the deaths in Karachi. Pakistan has been unable to evacuate its nationals.

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