Govt focusing on bringing back Indians from coronavirus-hit Italy, Iran: Jaishankar

New Delhi: The government is focusing on bringing back Indians stranded in coronavirus-hit Italy and Iran after screening them, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

He said a medical team will leave for Italy tomorrow for screening Indians.

Making a suo moto statement on the Indians stranded in Iran due to coronavirus, Jaishankar said the situation in Italy and Iran is “a cause of great concern” and the government is making all efforts to bring back Indians after appropriate testing and screening.

The minister said Iran and Italy have an extreme situation and the government is “focusing on those countries where coronavirus is strong”.

Noting that the disease has spread to about 90 countries, Jaishankar said if the government starts the process of bringing back Indians worldwide, then it will be only add to the panic.

India only intervened in Wuhan, China and brought back Indians, Jaishankar said.

He informed the House that over 6000 Indian nationals in various province of Iran are stranded which includes about 1,100 pilgrims mainly from the union territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir and Maharashtra.

He said there are nearly 300 students primarily from J-K, about 1,000 fishermen mainly from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, and others who are on longer term stay in Iran for pursuing their livelihood and religious studies.

Jaishankar said the government will first focus on bringing pilgrims to India from Iran and then students. He pointed out that infrastructure situation in Iran is stretched.

The minister said the fishermen are located in those parts of Iran which are not much impacted by coronavirus.

Jaishankar said 58 Indian pilgrims have already come back from Iran and have tested negative for coronavirus.

As many as 529 samples have been collected in the second batch and whosoever will test negative will be brought back in the next flight, he added.

On Italy, he said the government will hopefully send tomorrow a medical team for carrying out testing facilities for Indians stranded there.

“The situation in Italy is now emerging as a cause of great concern,” Jaishankar said.

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