New Delhi: Speaking on the coronavirus outbreak in the Lok Sabha, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday remarked that the outbreak of coronavirus is a matter of concern and that the matter needs to be dealt with responsibly. Also Read - EAM S Jaishankar Makes Surprise Visit to Kashmir, Meets Kin of Students Stranded in Iran
The minister said the initial focus will be to bring back Indian pilgrims who are mostly stranded in coronavirus-hit Qom in Iran. As of now, 6,000 Indians are currently stranded in Iran, out of which 1,100 are pilgrims from Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir and 300 are students. Also Read - Coronavirus: First Clinic to Screen Indians in Iran Expected to be Ready by Evening, Says Jaishankar
Jaishankar, however, assured that the government will continue to ‘track welfare’ of all Indians stranded, informing that a medical team is being sent to Italy as well.
“As the House would have noticed, where specific interventions are required – as in the case of Wuhan in China, the Diamond Princess crew in Japan or now the pilgrims in Iran, we will take necessary action,” he told the Lower House.
In the wake of WHO declaring coronavirus a pandemic, he also asked Indians to avoid all non-essential travel, as a precautionary measure.
“I visited Srinagar recently and took the initiative to meet the parents of some of the students who are in Iran. Their anxiety at this time is completely understandable. I shared with them in details, the ground situation and sought their understanding,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has confirmed the total number of cases to 73 in India with Kerala, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh reporting the maximum cases.
The coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed over 4,200 lives and infected more than 117,330 people across 107 countries and territories, can now be characterised as a pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization said.