138 passengers board chartered AI flight from Japan, will be quarantined in Delhi

After being stuck for 23 days on the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess in the Japanese port of Yokohoma, crew member and Mumbaikar Sonali Thakkar (24) finally left for India on a special Air India flight chartered by the government.

A passenger who got off Diamond Princess had tested positive for novel coronavirus, causing authorities to quarantine the ship at Yokohama from February 3. Ms. Thakkar, a Mira Road resident, was among the people stuck on the ship.

Earlier this month, her father, Dinesh Thakkar, had tweeted a video of Ms. Thakkar asking for assistance from the government, and had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring his daughter home.

On Wednesday, former Bharatiya Janata Party MP Kirit Somaiya announced on Twitter that Ms. Thakkar and 137 other Indians had boarded the chartered flight sent by the government to bring them back.

Mr. Somaiya told The Hindu that after Mr. Thakkar informed him of his daughter’s departure from Japan, he confirmed the news with the Ministry of External Affairs. “I was assured by the ministry that 138 people had boarded the flight and Ms. Thakkar had also shared images with me. The ministry has also said that after the flight lands in Delhi, all the passengers will be quarantined there for 14 days,” Mr. Somaiya said.

Mr. Thakkar said his daughter is in touch with the family and has not thought about quitting her job with the cruise company. “It was because of the virus outbreak that the ship had been quarantined. The cruise company is not at fault. Therefore, we will not think about her termination and are waiting for her to return home,” he said.

He said that the government could have taken this step earlier when nobody was infected on board. “Now, due to the government’s delay in the assistance mission, 16 Indians have already tested positive on the ship and therefore were not allowed to board the chartered flight,” he said.

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