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COVID-19: India to track over 450 visitors from Iran

NEW DELHI

As the number of coronavirus positive cases is on a sudden rise in India, the country of around 1.3 million population is trying to locate 459 visitors who arrived from Iran for screening, according to a Health Ministry official in Delhi on Thursday.

In February, when these travelers came to India, the screening of travelers from Iran had not started. But now, it is known that Iran has the second-highest number of deaths, currently standing at 92, following Italy where 107 deaths have been confirmed so far.

The addresses and hotel names provided by the travelers at the time of the visa application turned out to be wrong. While searching for these passengers, the team of health workers reached the given hotels and learned that the passengers never came, and had canceled the bookings after getting the visa.

An official from the Indian Health Ministry said that after failing to locate these passengers, the ministry submitted the list of these travelers to the Tourism Ministry.

Most of the passengers are visiting India on tourism and business visas, the official told condition of anonymity due to restrictions no speaking to the media.

Many top leaders of the Iranian government have been infected with the virus.

Ramezan Pourghassem, head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards counter-intelligence branch, was also announced dead due to the coronavirus on Thursday.

Until Tuesday, travelers from only 12 countries were being screened for coronavirus, but after new cases erupted on Wednesday, the Union Ministry has now decided that every patient coming on an international flight will be screened.

A middle-aged man with a travel history to Iran was tested positive for coronavirus at Ghaziabad in the National Capital Region, taking the number to 30.

India is in touch with Iran on possible evacuation of Indian pilgrims and students stuck in the coronavirus-hit nation, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on March 5.

The coronavirus also forced parties to postpone the India-EU summit, which was expected to take place at the EU office in Brussels on March 13.

According to Indian foreign ministry, the summit will be rescheduled to a mutually convenient date which is yet to be decided.

Meanwhile, New Delhi also postponed the Asian Security Conference, was previously scheduled to be held on March 12-13, for the same reason.

The minister added that the government is following up with Iran to tie-up evacuation of Indian pilgrims and students stranded in Tehran and Qom as per need.

The novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China, last December and has now spread to over 80 countries.

The global death toll is over 3,200, with more than 95,000 confirmed cases, according to the WHO.

Notably, some 52,000 former patients who contracted the virus have recovered.

The World Health Organization, which had declared the outbreak an international health emergency, recently updated the global risk level to “very high”.

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