1,400 pilgrims, students to be evacuated from Iran
New Delhi, Mar
11: The government on Wednesday said that it is in the process of evacuating
1,400 Indian nationals, mostly residents of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir,
from the coronavirus-hit Iran where around 300 people have died due to the
In a statement
tabled before the Rajya Sabha, Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar said
of the 6000 Indian nationals living in Iran, 1,100 were pilgrims mainly from
Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir and Maharashtra and 300 were students mostly from
J&K and 1,000 were fishermen from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
people have been infected with the novel coronavirus across Iran. Due to the
spike in coronavirus cases in Iran, as a precautionary measure, New Delhi
temporarily suspended direct flights between India and Iran from February 27.
Advisories were issued to avoid travel and returning passengers have been
The minister said
the Indian embassy in Tehran and consulates in Bandar Abbas and Zahidan reached
out immediately to Indian nationals in Iran to ascertain their welfare and are
in constant touch with them.
focus is on visiting pilgrims. Many of them are in Qom, where coronavirus
incidence has been strong. Their age and the nature of their residency
increases the risks of exposure. As their welfare is being currently addressed,
we are now focusing on Indian students,” Jaishankar told the House. Many
of the students, he said, are studying medicine.
provinces of Iran, including cities of Asaalouyeh, Chiruyeh and Kish where most
fishermen are located, the minister said, have not been affected so severely.
“These factors will guide our approach in the coming days,” he said.
Given the scale
of COVID -19 infection and its pressure on Iran’s resources, a team of six
Indian health officials has been deputed to Iran in order to set up testing and
sampling facilities there.
The first batch
of 108 samples received in India on March 7 were tested. Fifty-eight Indian
pilgrims (25 men, 31 women and 2 children), who tested negative, were
repatriated in special IAF C-17 flight on March 10, the minister said.
has got samples of another 529 Indians for testing at National Institute of
Virology, Pune. “We continue to collect more samples in Tehran and our
endeavor is to ensure the earliest possible return of our nationals after
appropriate testing and screening. We are working with the Iranian authorities
to operate some limited commercial flights for facilitating early return of the
remaining Indians after testing them,” Jaishankar said.