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India to evacuate its nationals from Wuhan: Jaishankar

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Press Trust of India New Delhi/Vadodara
With more than 100 people dead in China due to the Coronavirus and the infection showing no signs of letting up, India is planning to evacuate Indians, mostly students, stuck in Wuhan, the epicentre of the viral outbreak, even as the Union health minister on Tuesday said there is no confirmed case in the country so far.
India has also increased the number of airports from seven to 20 to do thermal screening of passengers for possible exposure to the deadly novel Coronavirus (nCoV) infection and made four more laboratories functional other than NIV-Pune for testing samples as part of its efforts to detect and check the spread of the virus.
As the deadly virus continued to spread in various provinces in China, Indian students, hailing from various states including Gujarat, have expressed their desire to return.
"Indian Embassy is in constant touch with the Chinese government. To evacuate students and other Indians from Wuhan, we are planning to send a plane there. Our efforts are on to bring them back. It will take some days. I urge people to trust the government on this," Jaishankar told reporters on his arrival at the Vadodara airport in Gujarat.
"No Indian student has been found to be affected by this virus. Parents need not worry about their children," he said.
As India started preparations to evacuate over 250 Indians, mostly students, stuck in Hubei province, its embassy in Beijing said these nationals will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine on their return.
The Indian nationals, mostly students, research scholars and professionals are working in Indian and international companies in the province.
While more than a dozen countries around the world have confirmed cases of the deadly virus, India is making all efforts to detect and check its spread.
Talking about the steps taken by the government, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said, "like in 2014, because of our alertness we prevented Ebola from entering the country, we are making all efforts and taking all possible measures to ensure there are no cases of nCoV here."

Vardhan said the government has made four more laboratories functional other than NIV-Pune for testing samples and it will be extended to 10 labs in the coming days.
Apart from increasing the number of airports to do thermal screening of passengers, the Centre has stepped up vigil in areas bordering Nepal in view of a confirmed case of nCoV detected there, he said.
The health minister said he has also written to all chief ministers, requesting them for personal intervention to review the states' preparedness for control and management of the spread of the virus.
China has reported 24 more deaths on Tuesday from the coronavirus epidemic, taking the number of fatalities to 106 as the confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the outbreak stand at 4,515, the Chinese health authorities said.
Chinese government has already locked down Wuhan as also other cities in the Hubei province with strict travel restrictions in and out of the area.
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
The deadly virus has spread from a seafood and animal market in Wuhan, and is suspected to have spread to as far as the US.

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First Published: Jan 28 2020 | 6:55 PM IST

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