255 Indians have tested positive for COVID-19 in Iran, says government

A large group of pilgrims from Kargil, Kashmir and Ladakh are stranded in holy city of Qom

March 18, 2020 04:32 pm | Updated 11:07 pm IST - NEW DELHI

In this Saturday, March 7, 2020, a cleric talks with a patient infected with the new coronavirus, at a hospital in Qom, 78 miles (125 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran.

In this Saturday, March 7, 2020, a cleric talks with a patient infected with the new coronavirus, at a hospital in Qom, 78 miles (125 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran.

With 255 Indians testing positive for COVID-19 in Iran and another 21 in other countries, the total number of Indian nationals afflicted by the pandemic rose to 427 as the cases within the country touched 162 on Wednesday. Globally, the number of COVID-19 cases crossed 2,00,000.

Also read:Efforts on to rescue 300 fishermen stranded in Iran

The Ministry of External Affairs confirmed in the Lok Sabha that as many as 255 pilgrims visiting Iran from Kashmir and Ladakh had been affected by the coronavirus. The Iranian government sent officials for inspection of the hotels where the Indian nationals were staying without maintaining quarantine conditions, Asghar Ali, one of the group leaders in Qom, told The Hindu.

“More people with COVID-19 positive status will be shifted but the hotel cannot accommodate all the patients. Many patients have been unwell over the last eight days and have had no arrangement for necessary medical care,” said Mr. Ali over phone.

Nadeem Bhat, a group leader from Kashmir, calling on the Centre to intervene, said, “We will have no option but to sit on the road as the hotels will have to be evacuated and we have nowhere to go.”

195 airlifted

Separately, a third batch of 195 Indians from Iran were brought to Jaisalmer by an Air India aircraft on Wednesday evening. After being screened at the airport, they were shifted to the Army wellness facility at the Jaisalmer military station, defence officials said. It was not immediately clear from which Iranian city these Indians had been airlifted to Jaisalmer.

Also read | A complete list of travel advisories issued by the Union Health Ministry

“With the arrival of this batch of evacuees, the total number of quarantined people housed at the Army wellness facility in Jaisalmer rose to 484,” an Army statement said.

Cases in India

Twelve new COVID-19 cases were reported within the country while 14 persons had been discharged. Over 5,700 people, who had come in contact with positive cases, continue to be under rigorous surveillance, the government has said.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which tested 1,040 samples of patients, said 500 samples were negative but is yet to release the results of the remaining 540.

Karnataka reported two fresh cases on Wednesday, taking the number of infections to 13. The number of cases in Ladakh rose to eight and Jammu and Kashmir three. Telangana has reported six cases, which include two foreigners. Rajasthan has also reported four cases including that of two foreigners. Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Uttarakhand and Punjab have reported one case each. In Haryana, there have been two cases while 14 foreign nationals are being treated in a private Gurugram hospital.

A 34-year-old soldier has tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Leh, Army sources said on Wednesday.

The Health Ministry on Wednesday reviewed the quarantine facilities for the evacuees including the ones at the airports/other key transit points, in terms of segregation of passengers, transportation to the quarantine facilities, health check-ups etc.

The Ministry has now directed for teams to carry out regular inspection and monitor the quarantine facilities to ensure that the necessary amenities and facilities are being provided.

Also read: 4th batch of 53 Indians evacuated from Iran: Jaishankar

The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has suggested to all States and Union Territories to take necessary steps for containing the spread of COVID-19 by restricting public transport. Refunds may be provided for advance bookings by passengers, the Ministry added.

Incoming travellers, including Indian nationals, were advised to avoid non-essential travel and informed that they can be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days on their arrival in India. Indian nationals have also been advised to refrain from travelling to China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany.

Due to the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 on border controls and air travel across the world, Vistara suspended its international operations from March 20 to March 31. The airline has also temporarily adjusted domestic capacity for the months of March and April 2020 in view of reduced demand.

On Tuesday, GoAir announced that it was cancelling its international operations. Air India has already cancelled flights to Rome, Milan, Seoul and reduced its frequencies to Paris, Frankfurt and Madrid after the latest government advisory.

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