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Coronavirus outbreak: India steps up vigil as confirmed cases jump to 62

Eight test positive from Kerala, seven from Maharashtra, four from Karnataka and one from J&K

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The global death toll from the virus has crossed 4,000 and the outbreak has spread to over 100 countries (Photo: PTI)

The number of novel patients in the country has risen to 62, the Union health ministry said on Wednesday. Two persons from Mumbai also tested positive for coronavirus, taking the number of such cases in Maharashtra to seven, health officials said.

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 seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 respectively. Ladakh has recorded two positive cases.

The total number of 62 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 Wednesday, two close contacts of these persons from Mumbai were found positive. Both are co-passengers of the index cases and part of the Dubai tour troup," it said.

"Till Wednesday, 1,38,968 travelers from 1195 flights have been screened at Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur international airports. As per the new guidelines from central government, travelers coming from all countries are being screened at international airports," it said. So far, India has evacuated 948 passengers from COVID-19 affected countries. Out of these, 900 are Indian citizens and 48 belonging to different nationalities including Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh, China, USA, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa and Peru, it said.

The ministry further said that a total number of 10,57,506 passengers have been screened so far at the airport.

Amid rising cases of the COVID-19 pandemic globally, India on Tuesday barred entry of the nationals of three more countries — France, Germany and Spain—suspending the regular as well as e-visas granted to them till date.

"All regular (sticker) Visas/e-Visas granted to nationals of France, Germany and Spain and issued on or before March 11 and who have not yet entered India stand suspended with immediate effect," said a Bureau of Immigration notification issued late Tuesday night.

Regular visas, including e-visas, granted to all foreign nationals who have travel history to these countries on or after February 1 and who have not yet entered India also stand suspended, it said.

Issuing a travel advisory, the health ministry also called for passengers with travel history to China, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Japan, Italy, Thailand, Singapore, Iran, Malaysia, France, Spain and Germany to undergo self-imposed quarantine for a period of 14 days from the date of their arrival, and their employers to facilitate work-from-home for such employees during this period.

India had already suspended visas granted to the nationals of Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan and China.

The Union Health Ministry has strongly urged people to refrain from travelling to China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, Japan, France, Spain and Germany and advised them to avoid non-essential travel abroad in view of the outbreak.

First Published: Wed, March 11 2020. 23:48 IST