58 Indian pilgrims who tested negative, were repatriated in an Indian Air Force (IAF) C-17 special flight on March 10

India has been taking steps for the safe return of Indians stranded in Coronavirus-hit Iran, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in the Lok Sabha on March 13.

“As per available information, there are above 6,000 Indian nationals in various provinces of Iran. These include 1,100 pilgrims mainly from the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, and the State of Maharashtra; nearly 300 students primarily from the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir; about 1,000 fishermen from the States of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Gujarat; and others who are on longer-term stay visas in Iran for pursuing their livelihood and religious studies,” the Minister said.

“Given the scale of COVID-19 and its pressure on Iran's own 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 were received in India on 7 March. These were tested and 58 Indian pilgrims (25 men, 31 women and two children), who tested negative, were repatriated in IAF C-17 special flight on 10 March. We have also received samples of 529 more Indians on this flight which have been tested in National Institute of Virology, Pune. So far, 299 of them have tested negative,” Jaishankar said.

The External Affairs Minister said that the global Coronavirus situation is being monitored on a continuous basis by a Group of Secretaries headed by the Cabinet Secretary and a Group of Ministers, headed by the Minister of Health and Family Welfare. “My Ministerial colleague has already apprised the House of measures being taken to control and contain the spread of virus within the country,” he added.

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