A total of 218 Indians, including 211 students, stranded in coronavirus-affected Italy arrived in India on Sunday, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said. In a separate trip, 234 citizens – 131 students and 103 pilgrims – stranded in Iran were also brought back to the country, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar announced.
Coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to 142 countries, infecting 1.56 lakh people and killing 5,833 people, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the outbreak a pandemic.
Italy, said to be the worst-hit country in Europe, has 21,157 positive cases of the virus, and 1,441 people have been killed due to it in the country. On the other hand, Iran, the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic in West Asia, has reported 12,729 confirmed cases and reported that 611 people have died after contracting the virus.
“218 Indians including 211 students from Milan landed in Delhi,” Muraleedharan tweeted about the Indians evacuated from Italy. “All will be quarantined for 14 days. Government of India is committed to reach out to Indians in distress, wherever they are!” He further thanked the Italian authorities, and the Indian officials in Italy for coordinating the evacuation.
Making the announcement about the Indians brought back from Iran, Jaishankar tweeted: “234 Indians stranded in Iran have arrived in India; including 131 students and 103 pilgrims,” the minister tweeted. He also thanked the Indian envoy to Iran, and the embassy officials.
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On Friday, a second batch of 44 Indian pilgrims had been brought back from Iran on board an Iran Air plane, three days after the first group of 58 pilgrims landed in India.
The foreign minister had informed the Lok Sabha on Thursday that there were around 6,000 Indians in Iran, including 1,100 pilgrims from Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir and Maharashtra. There are also around 300 Indian students and nearly 1,000 fishermen from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Gujarat.
Meanwhile, in India, the number of novel coronavirus patients so far increased to 107 on Sunday. Of these, nine people have recovered and two have died. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to lead India at a video conference of all members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation at 5 pm. The nations will chalk out a strategy to fight COVID-19 in the region.