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Coronavirus: Govt in talks with Iran to bring back Indians

Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
March 06, 2020 22:50 IST
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India is in discussions with Iran for evacuation of Indians, while a ferry flight will soon reach the national capital from Tehran with around 300 swab samples of Indians suspected of having coronavirus infection.


IMAGE: Passengers wearing protective face masks arrive from Iran, following an outbreak of the coronavirus, at Najaf airport in Iraq. Photograph: Alaa al-Marjani/Reuters

The flight is expected to land in the national capital on Friday, according to officials.

The flight, to be operated by Iran's Mahan Air, would not have any passengers and Iranians in India would be taken back in the return flight.


There are around 2,000 Indians in Iran, one of the countries which has been severely affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

A similar number of Indians are also there in the Persian Gulf country.

Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola on Friday said the first flight from Iran would be carrying the swabs.

"We are monitoring the situation on a daily basis, hourly basis... it will be a ferry flight coming with swabs," Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said at a press conference in New Delhi.

The minister also said evacuation of Indians from Iran is being planned in consultation with the health ministry and the Iran government.

As the government looks at bringing back Indians from coronavirus-hit countries, Kharola said while Indians come here, it should be made sure that they are in a healthy condition.

The health ministry is planning to set up advanced testing facilities in Iran itself. Before they board the flight, a test can be done for these passengers, he added.

A team of medical experts has reached Iran and it would be setting up a basic medical testing facility there.

"Another option is that we are trying to collect the samples, swabs... on the first flight that comes to India, these swabs will be brought.

"They will be tested in India and within a day.... the results will be known," Kharola noted.

Aviation regulator DGCA's chief Arun Kumar said 300 swabs are expected to be come in the Mahan Air flight.

Based on the outcome of the tests, those passengers who test negative would be allowed to come to the country later, he added.

Many of the Indians currently in Iran are pilgrims, he said.

Last month, India suspended flights from Iran in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Iranian carriers were operating three flights a week to both Delhi and Mumbai.

"We will allow temporarily Iran to bring in their flights and when they go back, they will be evacuating their people stranded here (India)," Kharola said.

Currently, screening of passengers coming from all parts of the world is being carried out at 30 airports. As many as 6,49,452 passengers were screened from 6,550 flights till 10 am on March 5, Puri said.

Further, the minister said airlines have been instructed for making in-flight announcements as per the directions of the health ministry.

All the international passengers are also being asked to fill the 'Self Reporting Form' in duplicate, as per the instructions of the health ministry.

"Necessary instructions have been issued to the airlines by DGCA to carry the nCOV samples to the designated ICMR-NIV Pune Lab for testing," Puri said.

The government has already evacuated hundreds of Indians from Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, as well as many who onboard on a coronavirus-hit cruise ship docked off Yokohama in Japan.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2020 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.