Five pilots, an engineer and a technician of Air India's have tested positive for the deadly novel coronavirus. They had operated Boeing 787 Dreamliners to Guangzhou in China recently.
Although air transport is suspended in India, Air India has been operating cargo flights to China and other countries to evacuate stranded citizens and bring medical supplies. The last time they had operated a flight was on April 20.
The development has come at a time when the national carrier is bringing back stranded Indians from various countries under the Vande Bharat mission. The news of Air India pilots getting the coronavirus infection has made several other pilots involved in the evacuation operation anxious.
Air India crew members are always under high risk of contracting the virus even though they wear full PPE gear, including he hazmat suits, gloves, mask and goggles. Moreover, they now halt in cities like New York, London and Singapore where cases of coronavirus are dramatically high and rising rapidly day by day.
The pilots and airline crew members are tested for coronavirus before and after operating the repatriation flights. After each flight, health officials collect swab samples of these crew members who are then shifted to a hotel until their test results come. They are allowed to go home only if tested negative.
India cases cross 62,000-mark, over 2,000 deaths
Meanwhile, with 3277 new cases and 128 new fatalities, the total number of novel Coronavirus infections in India rose to 62,939 and fatalities crossed 2000-mark, the health ministry said on Sunday, May 10. The Health Ministry said of the total, 41,472 are active cases, 19,357 people have recovered, and 2109 people have succumbed to the disease.
Maharashtra remained the worst-hit state with a total number of cases rising to 20,228, followed by Gujarat which has reported 7796 cases. Delhi has reported 6542 cases and Tamil Nadu 6535 cases, according to the Health Ministry data. Maharashtra has also recorded 779 deaths so far, the highest number of casualties among all the states. Madhya Pradesh (3614), Rajasthan (3708) and Uttar Pradesh (3373) were among the other worst-hit states.