Medical staff members at Hindan airport where Indian nationals were brought to India by Indian Air Force's C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from coronavirus-hit Iran, on Tuesday. Fifty-eight Indians were airlifted in the military transport aircraft.
Medical staff members at Hindan airport where Indian nationals were brought to India by Indian Air Force's C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from coronavirus-hit Iran, on Tuesday. Fifty-eight Indians were airlifted in the military transport aircraft.
Photo: ANI

External Affairs Minister of India, S Jaishankar on Thursday said that the coronavirus outbreak in India was a "matter of concern", as the number of positive cases in the country rose to 73.

"6000 Indians are stranded in Iran including 1,100 pilgrims from Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir and 300 students primarily from J&K," Jaishankar said in the Lok Sabha, adding that the initial focus was on bringing back these stranded pilgrims. Jaishankar however said that there were "operational constraints" in the evacuation process as the system in Iran was "strict".

Those stranded in Iran also include about 1,000 fishermen from Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Kerala as well as people who are working in the country on long-term visas.

He also said that of the 529 samples of the aforementioned stranded Indians that have been tested, 229 have so far tested negative.

India which has so far recorded 73 cases so far, cancelled all tourist visas on Wednesday in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

Speaking about the visa restrictions, Jaishankar said, "We will do whatever we must to check spread of coronavirus".

The virus has also affected the aviation industry, with the number of international passengers arriving at Indian airports going from around 70,000 per day to about 62,000, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri said in the Lok Sabha.

Puri opined that after the new travel advisory, the number might fall further to about 40,000. There are 30 international airports in the country and every international passenger is now being screened at airports.

Apart from the Indians in Iran, there are many others who have been stranded in various counties across the globe. This includes two students from Maharashtra's Amravati district who remain stranded in Italy. Their parents have since contacted the local Member of Parliament to ensure their return.

The World Health Organisation has termed the novel coronavirus a pandemic.

The Haryana government has declared it an epidemic, while the Kerala government had earlier declared a public health emergency.

The coronavirus outbreak is also poised to affect the upcoming IPL, with all foreign players being unavailable till April 15 owing to the visa restrictions. There has also been a plea filed before the Supreme Court that seeks the postponement of the upcoming matches.

The Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) decides to put on hold all national and state championships till April 15.

(With inputs from agencies)

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