MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar during a weekly press briefing in Delhi on Thursday, January 30, 2020. (Photo Credit: Screengrab/Twitter/@MEAIndia)
The Government of India (GoI) has reached out to over 600 Indians living in China's Hubei province, the epicentre of coronavirus, to ascertain their willingness to be brought back to India. India has already approached Chinese authorities to allow it to send two flights to Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, to bring back Indian nationals from the province.
"We have established contact with over 600 Indians across the province and are individually ascertaining their willingness to be repatriated. Our Mission in Beijing is working round-the-clock on the ground to work out the necessary logistics," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a media briefing.
He said the government has been conducting a regular review of the situation arising out of the outbreak of coronavirus in China. The Indian embassy in Beijing said India was preparing to evacuate its citizens from Wuhan on Friday. According to Chinese authorities, the nationwide death toll from novel coronavirus has jumped to 170.
"We have made a formal request to the government of China for bringing back Indian nationals from the Hubei province in two flights. We are awaiting for the necessary approval from the Chinese side. We hope this will be granted soon," Kumar said.
Kumar said arrangements are being put in place for people to travel to the airport in Wuhan. "We remain committed to the safety and well-being of our nationals abroad. We appreciate the support extended by the government of China and other ministries in government of India in putting this process together," Kumar said.
India reported the first case of novel coronavirus from Kerala on Thursday, saying a female student of a university in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, has tested positive for the virus that has killed 170 people in China and is spreading worldwide. "The patient tested positive for novel coronavirus and is in isolation in a hospital," the Health Ministry said. It added the student is stable and being closely monitored.
Priya Abraham, director of ICMR-NIV in Pune, said 49 samples have been tested till now at the national institute of virology and one sample has tested positive. "The positive sample belongs to a student from Kerala who was studying in Wuhan. Now a next test known as 'next-gen sequencing test' will be done on her sample and the final result will be declared till tomorrow evening," Abraham said.
China Extends Helping Hand To India
China on Thursday said it is closely watching the report about one confirmed case of the Coronavirus in India, and assured cooperation to the Indian side in jointly strengthening the epidemic prevention and control. Chinese Embassy Spokesperson Ji Rong said the mission has maintained close communication with the Indian government on the issue by briefing regularly on the novel Coronavirus (nCoV) development and China's efforts in preventing and controlling.
"The Chinese side pays close attention to the report of the emergence of one confirmed case of pneumonia caused by the novel Coronavirus in India, and will cooperate with the Indian side to jointly strengthen the epidemic prevention and control," Ji said.