Two test positive for coronavirus at Ministry of External Affairs, staff goes into self-quarantine

At least two persons working at the headquarters of the Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in the national capital have tested coronavirus disease (Covid-19) positive on Saturday, people familiar with developments said, as proactive measures are being taken to handle all such cases.

A consultant working for the ministry’s Central Europe division and an officer of the law division have tested Covid-19 positive, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.

Other staff of the Central Europe division were directed on May 27 to go into self-quarantine for a fortnight and work from home. People, who were in contact with the legal officer, too, were asked to observe self-quarantine from Friday, the people said.

“The external affairs ministry has been proactive in handling any Covid-19 positive cases among its employees or consultants in accordance with the health protocol laid down by the government,” said one of the people cited above.

In keeping with the official protocol, the rooms of Central Europe and legal divisions and some others nearby are being sanitised, they said.

These are the first reported Covid-19 cases in the MEA. Several cases have also been reported from other central ministries and departments that have their offices in the same part of New Delhi as the MEA

The country has reported nearly 166,000 Covid-19 positive cases and over 4,700 deaths till Friday.

The MEA, which is playing a leading role in the country’s response to the pandemic and repatriation of Indian nationals stranded around the world, has moved much of its work and interactions online.

Several foreign envoys recently presented their credentials to President Ram Nath Kovind during a virtual ceremony and external affairs minister S Jaishankar has been holding virtual interactions and meetings with his counterparts across the globe. The ministry’s weekly media briefings are conducted online and the prime ministers of India and Australia are set to hold a virtual bilateral meeting on June 4 – the first such meeting since the outbreak of the pandemic.

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