New Delhi, Mar 13 (PTI) The number of novel coronavirus patients in the country has risen to 60, with 10 more positive cases — eight from Kerala and one each from Delhi and Rajasthan — being reported since Tuesday”s update, the Union health ministry said on Wednesday.
Giving state-wise breakup, the ministry said five positive cases have been reported in Delhi while nine persons were diagnosed with the infection in Uttar Pradesh till Wednesday evening.
Karnataka and Maharashtra have reported four and two confirmed cases of COVID-19 respectively. Ladakh has recorded two positive cases.
Rajasthan, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab have reported one case each, the ministry said.
Kerala has till now reported 17 cases, including the three patients who were discharged last month following recovery.
The total number of 60 confirmed cases includes 16 Italians tourists, the ministry said.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who spoke to a few COVID-19 patients admitted at Medanta and Safdarjung hospitals through video calls on Tuesday, said all those infected by the disease were stable and showing signs of recovery.
India will be sending a team of doctors to Italy on Thursday to collect and bring swab samples of Indian students stranded there so that they can be tested before being brought back to the country, health ministry officials said on Wednesday.
The ministry further said that the government of India is undertaking measures to ensure safety and security of its citizens in Iran after it became clear that the country was facing a COVID-19 outbreak.
Indian nationals in Iran include pilgrims, students and fishermen, the ministry said.
On March 7, 108 samples were received from Iran. These samples are being tested at the laboratory of AIIMS. Also, six scientists from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have been stationed in Iran and they so far have collected swab samples of over 400 Indians stranded there.
Equipments and reagents have also been dispatched to enable them to setup a lab.
India evacuating 1,400 Kashmir pilgrims, students from Iran
The government on Wednesday said that it is in the process of evacuating 1,400 Indian nationals, mostly residents of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir, from the coronavirus-hit Iran where around 300 people have died due to the outbreak.
In a statement tabled before the Rajya Sabha, Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar said of the 6000 Indian nationals living in Iran, 1,100 were pilgrims mainly from Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir and Maharashtra and 300 were students mostly from J&K and 1,000 were fishermen from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
Around 9,000 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus across Iran. Due to the spike in coronavirus cases in Iran, as a precautionary measure, New Delhi temporarily suspended direct flights between India and Iran from February 27. Advisories were issued to avoid travel and returning passengers have been screened.
The minister said the Indian embassy in Tehran and consulates in Bandar Abbas and Zahidan reached out immediately to Indian nationals in Iran to ascertain their welfare and are in constant touch with them.
“The initial focus is on visiting pilgrims. Many of them are in Qom, where coronavirus incidence has been strong. Their age and the nature of their residency increases the risks of exposure. As their welfare is being currently addressed, we are now focusing on Indian students,” Jaishankar told the House. Many of the students, he said, are studying medicine.
The southern provinces of Iran, including cities of Asaalouyeh, Chiruyeh and Kish where most fishermen are located, the minister said, have not been affected so severely. “These factors will guide our approach in the coming days,” he said.