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Thursday, 12 March, 2020, 11 : 00 AM [IST]

Focusing on bringing back Indians from Iran, Italy: Jaishankar

India is focusing its efforts on bringing back its nationals from Iran and Italy where the outbreak of Covid-19 was most severe, Foreign Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said on Wednesday, describing the situation in both countries as “extreme."

Responding to concerns raised by Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Rajya Sabha on the evolving Covid-19 situation in the world and Indian nationals, including stranded students, pilgrims and fishermen, Jaishankar said the government would try to fly out a medical team to Italy where more than 100 Indians were awaiting certificates that they were free of infection to return home.

On preventive measures being taken, Jaishankar said procedures to screen all those coming into the country were in place at airports, sea ports and along land border posts, reports Mint.

Among the concerns raised by the MPs were adequate food and water supplies for the stranded and steps to ensure their quick return.

Jaishankar’s comments came on a day the number of people infected with Covid-19 topped 120,000 across the world with the death toll crossing 4,000. India has 60 confirmed infections so far.

Pointing out that 90 countries had reported instances of Covid-19, Jaishankar said it was important not to add to the panic.

“At the moment, after China (the global epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak) and the Diamond Princess issue, Iran is an extreme situation, Italy is an extreme situation," Jaishankar said adding that some other countries that India was observing very closely were Germany, France and Spain where there had been a major jump in infections.

According to Jaishankar, when China reported the first cases, India focused on evacuating its nationals from Wuhan. Indians in other parts of China were not part of the airlift, he said. From Italy and Iran too, there were one or two places from where India was looking at bringing back its nationals. He said that in the case of Iran, New Delhi was concentrating on Qom and Tehran, where the outbreak was most severe.

“So it’s a very focused intervention and not a general intervention," the minister said.

On the situation in Iran and concerns expressed by members for the safety of Indian fishermen there, Jaishankar said that the Indian Consulate in the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas was in contact with the fishermen.
“This is a very difficult time in Iran... the Iranian system itself is struggling," he said. (Source: Mint)

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