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Coronavirus: 255 Indians infected in Iran, Govt tells Lok Sabha

Coronavirus: 255 Indians infected in Iran, Govt tells Lok Sabha

A day after the Ministry of External Affairs stated that media reports claiming a large number of Indians in Iran had tested positive for coronavirus could not be confirmed, the government told Lok Sabha Wednesday that 255 Indians had been infected with COVID-19 in the Islamic Republic.

The government further informed that 12 people have been infected with the virus in UAE, five in Italy and one each in Hong Kong, Kuwait, Sri Lanka and Rwanda. Till Monday, 389 Indians had returned from Iran by special flights, including 205 pilgrims.

On Tuesday, Ministry of External Affairs Additional Secretary Dammu Ravi said it could only confirm "some positive cases". "It is quite possible that a country which has such a large spread of the virus could have some positive cases among indian nationals. But I cannot confirm to you if the list which is being circulated on social media is correct," he said.

Last week, Ravi had said that the government would bring back only those Indians from other countries who test negative for coronavirus. "If Indians test positive elsewhere, we would expect the country they are in to take care of them like we are doing with the foreign nationals (here)," he said on March 12.

Several of the pilgrims who are stuck in Iran told The Indian Express over the phone that over 800 Indians were currently stranded in the city of Qom. A 44-year-old pilgrim from Leh said he and 18 others in a 53-member group had tested positive but no effort had been made to segregate them.

"My sample was taken by an Indian Embassy team a week ago. We have been informed that 19 of us are positive. From day one, we have been demanding that we should be kept in isolation," he said.

Another pilgrim in Qom, urging the Indian government to take them back, said, more than 200 "positive" cases had been shifted to a facility provided by Iran.

More than 16,000 of the over 18,000 confirmed cases of the virus across the Middle East have been reported in Iran, with the country's death toll rising by 135 on Tuesday to 988.

Meanwhile, PTI reported that the Delhi High Court Wednesday expressed satisfaction over the steps taken by the central government in communicating with and bringing back most of the Indian students stranded in Iran in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

(Inputs and image from theindianexpress.com)

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