Govt ready with an evacuation plan for Indians stranded in Iran

Mar 06,2020

Govt ready with an evacuation plan for Indians stranded in Iran

The Union government is making all possible attempts to bring back nearly 2,000 Indians stranded in Iran, which has reported a huge number of cases of COVID-19.

"We are in advanced stage of talks with Iranian authorities to bring back the Indian nationals. Most of these people are from Kargil. They had gone on a pilgrimage and got stuck as regular commercial flights were suspended between the two countries following the spread of the virus," Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Friday. Simultaneously, the Indian government will also send back nearly 1,800 Iranians, who are stuck in India.

Puri said the first flight from Tehran by an Iranian carrier, Mahan Air, will land in Delhi with blood samples (swabs) of over 300 Indians, stuck in Iran, for further testing. Only passengers who test negative will be brought back from Iran. A team of Indian medical experts have already landed in Iran and set up a base there to screen stranded Indians before flying them back to India.

The government will also send some of the Iranian nationals, who have been stranded in India, when Mahan Air flight returns.

"We have screened nearly 6.5 lakh people at Indian airports and detected 84 suspected cases of the deadly coronavirus. These have been sent for testing,” Puri said, adding, “We are monitoring it globally and every passenger is being screened."

The minister said multiple screening counters have been set up at all major airports in India and added that the screening process takes less than seven minute per passenger. "India now has the capacity to screen 70,000 passengers a day with minimal inconvenience or time delay to passengers,’ Puri said.

"The government is fully geared up for handling screening as multiple counters have been opened. Airport authorities are screening all incoming international passengers at 30 airports today."

Puri said his ministry is “severely truncating” the scope of annual aviation event named 'Wings 2020'. He, however, clarified that the government has no plans to cancel the event.

Army issues advisory

Indian Army has advised its service personnel to utilise shopping complex facilities within the cantonment or military stations and avoid visits to crowded areas. The Army has also issued detailed instructions on actions to be taken at military stations, Army formations and service hospitals.

"Local military authorities will exercise suitable control to avoid/postpone all non- essential mass gathering like festivals, welfare activities and public gatherings till situation improves," the Army advisory stated. 

It also stated that regular health education and counseling activities will be carried out at all military stations. Military hospitals have been asked to establish isolation wards and have separate OPDs for screening of symptomatic cases to prevent avoidable transmission. "Service hospitals will work in synergy with local civil medical authorities and designated ICMR labs," the advisory said, adding, "All non-essential foreign travel is to be avoided".

Meanwhile, Indian Army will establish quarantine facilities for 1,500 people which will be activated at locations as part of the overall effort of the government to battle coronavirus. Tentative locations identified are Jaisalmer, Suratgarh, Secundrabad, Chennai and Kolkata. 

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