Apart from the 647 Indians evacuated from the coronavirus-hit Hubei province in China, 10 other Indians who wanted to return were unable to do so as they could not clear the health screening, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday. Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar also said the already issued e-Visas for travel to India from China and existing normal visas are no longer valid.
Citing past advisories, Kumar said Indian nationals have been advised to refrain from travelling to China and the people visiting that country henceforth will be quarantined on return.
India successfully carried out the evacuation of 647 Indians and seven Maldivians on two flights, he said. These Indian nationals belong to Wuhan and nearby areas and they did not show any symptoms of illness, Kumar said.
"It was a complex operation and we thank the Chinese government for their support and facilitation during this exercise," he said.
Kumar said the Indians living in Wuhan and the Hubei province were contacted and their willingness to travel to India was ascertained.
"Based on the number of people who had indicated their desire to come back to India, we had mounted these two flights. Some people who were not well...between the two flights, there were 10 such people who had indicated their willingness but could not travel because they could not clear the health screening," he said.
"We got in touch with Chinese authorities (about) the 10 people who could not travel back. Specifically, we sought their assistance to monitor the health of these nationals. We are in regular contact with them and we are exploring all possible options to ensure their safety and their well being," Kumar said.
Apart from these 10 people, there are several Indians in that province who chose to stay back, he said.
As far as Indians in adjoining provinces are concerned, Kumar said the ministry is closely monitoring the situation.
"We are committed to the welfare of the Indian nationals abroad. We will take steps as necessary," he said.
Kumar said anybody who wanted to come and who passed the screening test is here in India. Asked if India was extending any assistance to China, Kumar said, "We are closely looking at the situation.China is making all efforts to deal with the outbreak. If required, we will be willing to extend all possible assistance to China."
The MEA, in coordination with other ministries and institutions of the Indian government, undertook comprehensive and precipitous steps following the nCoronavirus (Novel Coronavirus) outbreak in China, he said. Travel to India from China on e-Visa has been temporarily suspended and it also applies to the holders of Chinese passports and applicants of other nationalities residing in the Chinese mainland, Kumar said.
"We have also clarified that holders of already issued e-Visa are no longer valid. It is further clarified that existing normal visas are no longer valid. Those who have compelling reason to visit India may contact our Embassy or our Consulates," he said.
India has so far reported three confirmed cases of nCoV from Kerala. Three medical students studying at the Wuhan University who returned to India recently tested positive for the virus.
The death toll in China's novel coronavirus outbreak has gone up to 563, while the total confirmed cases has risen sharply to 28,018. Overall 563 people have died in China due to the virus.