External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, during a surprise visit to Jammu and Kashmir on Monday, met the family members of students stranded in Iran amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, PTI reported. Iran is the epicenter of the outbreak in West Asia, with more than 6,500 cases and 194 deaths.
Officials said that over 100 people met Jaishankar in Srinagar and urged the government to airlift their relatives and students from Iran immediately. There are about 2,000 Indians stranded in Iran.
“We are very thankful to him for looking into the matter so keenly,” one of the people who met the minister told ANI. “Being a parent, it is very difficult for us to see our children panicking there. They are discussing bringing back pilgrims, we also want our children to be evacuated soon.”
Another resident said that the foreign minister has assured them that their children will be brought back but he did not give a time frame for the evacuation process. “Our children have been quarantined within four walls of the dormitory and have no access to food or medicines,” he added.
On Sunday, Jaishankar had said that the screening process of Indian nationals stranded in Iran has started and follow-up arrangements are being discussed with Iranian authorities to bring them back. He also added that Iran was in close contact with Indian fishermen and was ensuring that they had adequate supplies.
The deadly coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has infected over 1 lakh people across the world and killed nearly 4,000 people. Outside mainland China, Italy, Iran and South Korea are the worst-affected countries. A quarter of Italy’s population was put under lockdown on Sunday as infections soared past 7,000 and toll nearly tripled from 133 to 366.
Four fresh cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed on Monday, taking the total number of infections in India to 43. The Union Health Ministry said one new case each has been reported from Kerala, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.