Over 250 Indian students are believed to be trapped in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo Credit: Representational Image)
As China coronavirus spread turned virulent, India has requested China to allow over 250 Indian students trapped in Wuhan, the epicentre of the new SARS-like virus, to leave the city, said sources. The Chinese authorities on Wednesday locked down several cities, including Wuhan, in a bid to contain the coronavirus, leaving hundreds of Indians and thousands others stranded in the country.
About 700 Indian students, mostly medical students, are believed to be studying in different universities in Wuhan and its surrounding areas. Around 25 Indian students, mostly from Kerala, are trapped in the Chinese city of Wuhan following the lockdown.
The development has come after the family members of these students urged the government to bring them back. The family of one of the students stuck in Wuhan said that they were running out of food as shops and transportation services in their area were shut.
"They are running out of food. We are told that shops and transportation services in the area have been shut down. Whatever little food they had is almost over. They are also told not to come out of the places where they are staying," Kumaran J, father of a sixth-year medical student of Wuhan University, was quoted as saying by The News Minute.
Kumaran said that some of the students were about to leave Wuhan when the Chinese authorities announced the shut down of transport services on Wednesday. "My daughter along with her batch mates from India were standing in a queue to get boarding passes for the bullet train to get to another city. Just when she was fourth in the line from the counter, they closed issuing the passes and unfortunately four of them including her were not able to get into the train. The remaining 14 of them were able to get out of Wuhan and I heard they will be reaching India soon," said Kumaran.
In India, at least 11 people are also kept under observation for the possible contraction of the deadly coronavirus. However, four of them have been tested negative. India has also started thermal screening of passengers coming from China at seven airports, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kochi.
The Union Health Minister has directed for multidisciplinary central teams to be sent to the seven states where thermal screening is being done. Each central team will consist of a public health expert, a clinician and a microbiologist. These teams would reach the respective states on Sunday.
The Union Health Ministry has also opened a 27x7 NCDC call centre (+91-11-23978046) to direct those seeking clinical inquiry to the relevant Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) officer. The call centre will also monitor the data provided by the External Affairs Ministry and alert state and district surveillance officers.
So far, nearly 1,300 people have been detected positive for the coronavirus and at least 41 have lost their lives. The deadly Wuhan virus has spread to several other countries with positive cases being reported from the US, Thailand, Nepal, Australia among several others.