Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan on Thursday urged citizens who are stranded abroad amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown in the country to be patient till May 3, PTI reported.

The countrywide lockdown, which was imposed on March 25 and was supposed to end on April 14, has been extended till May 3. Muraleedharan, speaking at a video conference session, said foreign ministry was concerned about the Indians stranded abroad and was making efforts to bring them back at the earliest.

“Of course everyone understands that the present situation where there is a lockdown...the spirit and rules of lockdown do not allow us to bring anyone to the country and then get them stranded in India at the airports,” he said, pointing out that there is a travel ban between states and some districts, and many coronavirus hotspots in India have been completely sealed.

The Union minister said Indian students were stranded across the globe from the Caribbean to New Zealand and Australia in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

“So I am expecting up to 3rd May, please be patient,” Muraleedharan added. “We are definitely concerned about the situation of not only the students, but also many who have gone on tourist visas or on business visits, all those who are stranded.”

The minister added that the coronavirus pandemic is the first major disruption in the global economy since the 2008 financial crisis. “The MEA will be working with missions and posts to promote the 3Ts trade, tourism and technology into India,” he said. “Let me assure you that the government of India has not only been proactive but also pre-emptive in its strategy in controlling the pandemic. That is why a lockdown has been in force when India was in the early stages of the outbreak.”

India has so far recorded 21,700 coronavirus cases and 686 deaths, according to the health ministry’s update on Thursday evening. The Centre said the country has managed to maintain a linear growth of coronavirus cases over the one month period during its lockdown.

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