New Delhi: India on Thursday reiterated its advice on avoiding non-essential travel as cases of coronavirus mounted to 74.
In the same breath, the Ministry of External Affairs said that there is no need to panic as the situation is under control.
On evacuation of stranded Indians in Iran and elsewhere, the COVID Coordinator said it did not mean that they were trying to bring everybody back. Rather, only those who are not contaminated will be brought back first.
‘‘Sample are being tested in India. Those who test negative will be brought in. That is how we are dealing with it. A medical team will go to Italy, too. One medical team is already stationed there," he explained.
Colonel Adhikari, Deputy Director from the Bureau of Immigration, said that they have started documenting all travel details of foreigners and Indians.
"If a foreigner refuses to give details about where he is staying and where he is going, he will not be allowed entry. If an Indian refuses the same information at the immigration counter, he will be quarantined."
The MEA weekly briefing was converted into a briefing on coronavirus.
Explaining the process, an Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs said ‘‘our request is to avoid non-essential travel." If you are abroad and can stay there, please stay put. On February 20, 63,200 Indians came back from abroad.
On March 10, 43,900 Indians came back. It is a very dynamic figure. We expect that this number will come down further following the advisories and the measures. If required, we will quarantine," he said.
There is, however, no penalty on people not reporting travel details. "But the passport of a person is for the immigration to see. We are scanning it closely. First of all, he is infecting his own family.
Sooner or later, he will be found out," said an official. In response to a question, he said that there will be no discrimination. Public health services are available to everyone. Especially foreigners, they will be taken care of.
Asked if projects like the bullet train will suffer, the MEA official said that project visa is exempted. Ongoing economic projects and people required to man them will be able to come in.
Asked whether Indian crew members on Diamond Princess have tested positive, he said that we do not have the exact data right now.
The MEA said that there were many students stranded in Italy. The mission is looking into the testing and then giving them certificates to facilitate their return.