air india (Photo Credit: air india )
The ground floor of Air India's Centaur Hotel was sealed for two days on Wednesday for sanitisation after a crew member tested at the temporary facility was found positive for COVID-19, senior airline officials said. Amid the coronavirus-triggered lockdown, the Centaur is not functioning as a hotel and only a certain area of its ground floor is being used temporarily to test crew members who have to operate passenger flights under Vande Bharat Mission or other cargo flights, the officials noted.
Air India had sealed its headquarters in Delhi on Tuesday for two days to conduct a thorough sanitisation of the building after an employee who worked there tested positive for COVID-19. "All hotels are currently closed and Centaur is also not functioning as a hotel. A part of the premises, which is used for conducting tests, has been demarcated for sanitisation adhering to safety protocols, and the crew test has been shifted to a different medical office for the time being," the Air India spokesperson said.
The government-run Air India was the only airline involved in the Vande Bharat Mission, under which the carrier and its subsidiary Air India Express were scheduled to operate 64 flights between May 7 and May 14 to repatriate around 15,000 stranded Indians from 12 countries on a payment basis. "The crew member who was tested at the hotel was found COVID-positive on Wednesday. Therefore, the ground floor of the hotel has been cordoned off for 48 hours for sanitisation," the Air India officials stated.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Wednesday that 30,000 Indians will return from 31 countries on 149 flights of the national carrier between May 16-22, the duration for the second phase of the Vande Bharat Mission. India has been under lockdown since March 25 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 74,200 people and killed around 2,400 people in the country till now. All scheduled commercial passenger flights have been suspended for the lockdown period.