The Union Health Ministry on Thursday said passengers who want to enter India from Italy or South Korea will need a certificate of having tested negative for the novel coronavirus from designated laboratories authorised by those countries. The ministry said this is a temporary measure and will be enforced from March 10 till cases of COVID-19 subside.
So far, 30 cases have been confirmed in India, including three patients who have recovered in Kerala. Many of the cases are linked to a group of travellers from Italy.
Italy’s number of deaths rose to 107 on Wednesday, with the number of cases since the outbreak surfaced 13 days ago climbing to more than 3,000. Meanwhile, South Korea reported 760 new coronavirus cases on Thursday and more than 35 deaths, according to Reuters.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the Indian authorities are working the logistics with their counterparts in Iran to evacuate citizens after the coronavirus outbreak continued to worsen and dozens of countries in West Asia reported their first cases of the highly infectious illness. Around 1,200 Indians are in Iran currently.
“Update for Indians stranded in Iran and for their families: Our medical team for screening arrives in Iran today,” he tweeted. “Hope to establish first clinic at Qom by this evening. Screening process will start immediately thereafter. Working on logistics of return with Iranian authorities.”
“Group of Ministers constantly monitoring progress,” the minister added. “Understand the concern of families. Keep faith.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had on Wednesday said that coronavirus has spread to almost all of Iran’s provinces but the country will get through the outbreak with a “minimum” number of deaths. At least 92 people have died so far from coronavirus in Iran, one of the highest tolls outside China where the epidemic originated late last year.
Indians have been advised against travel to China, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan. The government has also begun screening all passengers arriving in the country for coronavirus.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan briefed members of the Rajya Sabha on the steps taken by India to control the outbreak of the coronavirus. The minister said authorities are in touch with Iran for evacuation of pilgrims and students stranded in the country.
The health ministry has also asked states to form rapid response teams at the district, block and village levels to tackle the spread of the virus. “Since, in addition to COVID-19 cases related to travel, some cases of community transmission have also been observed, it has been decided to involve district collectors and states have been asked to form rapid response teams as the district, block and village levels,” the ministry added.