Amid the Coronavirus outbreak in Iran, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that New Delhi was collaborating with Tehran to set up a screening process for the evacuation of Indian citizens stuck in the country. With the most deaths outside China, Iran has officially reported 54 deaths, however, experts have predicted a much higher number.
As many as 987 people have been infected from the virus, the country's Health Ministry said, as reported by the IRNA. "Working on the issue of Indians in Iran anxious to return due to Coronavirus. I have seen many tweets in this regard. We are collaborating with the Iranian authorities to set up a screening process for the return of Indians," tweeted Jaishankar.
"Am asking our Ambassador Dhamu Gaddam to keep all those concerned updated of the progress. I am also tracking this personally," he said in the following tweet. India on Thursday had temporarily suspended all flights from Iran, as the country struggles to manage the spread of the virus. Several political leaders have urged Jaishankar to ensure the return of Indian nationals.
Earlier in the day, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Jaishankar, urging him to direct Indian embassy officials in Iran to take necessary steps for the evacuation of more than a hundred Indian fishermen. A similar request was made by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.
On February 27, the Indian Embassy said that it has been receiving queries from Indian nationals residing in Iran and their relatives in India over the evolving situation of coronavirus. The Embassy informed that it is in touch with the local authorities in Iran and closely monitoring the situation. The Indian envoy to Tehran, Dhamu Gaddam, has now said that the authorities are working to facilitate the return of citizens who wish to go back home.
Struggling to control the outbreak, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has prepared to send a larger team to Iran to address the issue. With 978 cases of the virus reported, Iran remains at the crux of the deadly virus in the Middle East. In an effort to control the outbreak and in view of international condemnation, Hassan Rouhani's government in Iran has suspended educational institutes, schools, and universities until March 7. With speculations of a higher figure, Iran's health ministry responding to the critics, it accused the foreign media of spreading fake news.
Hours before being diagnosed, a video of Iran's deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi from a press conference had gone viral, wherein he could be seen uneasy and heavily perspiring. The virus that has now affected over 80,000 people worldwide is now spreading in parts of Europe and the Middle East. First detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year, coronavirus has spread to more than 45 countries across the world, including India.
(With ANI inputs)