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More than 6,000 Indians stranded in coronavirus-hit Iran, efforts on to bring them back, says govt

Foreign minister S Jaishankar has said that more than 6,000 Indians are stranded in different provinces of Iran, one of the worst-hit countries by coronavirus.

“As per available information, there are over 6,000 Indian nationals in various provinces of Iran. These include about 1,100 pilgrims mainly from the union territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir and the state of Maharashtra; nearly 300 students primarily from the UT of Jammu and Kashmir; about 1000 fishermen, including from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat; and others who are on longer term stay in Iran for pursuing their livelihood and religious studies,” Jaishankar said in the Lok Sabha.

He further said that government is trying for the return of these people and its initial focus is on visiting pilgrims. “Many of them are in Qom, where Coronavirus incidence has been strong. The nature of their residency also increases the risks of exposure. Age is also a factor that was taken into account,” said Jaishankar.

The government received 529 samples from Iran and so far, 299 of them have tested negative, said the minister. He once again highlighted the situation in Italy and said that a medical team is being sent there from India.

The government moved on Wednesday to restrict travel into the country in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus. The government said late on Wednesday that it would suspend the vast majority of visas to the country in a wide-reaching attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus as cases across the region continued to rise.

The move to restrict visas comes ahead of the busy summer travel period from April to June, and could also hamper the government’s attempts to sell Air India, the only carrier flying long-haul international routes.

The number of coronavirus patients in India rose to 73 on Thursday with 13 fresh cases, including nine from Maharashtra and one each from Delhi, Ladakh, and Uttar Pradesh as well as one foreign national, the Union Health Ministry said.

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