Total cases of COVID-19 in India touch 169; global figure crosses 2,00,000.
With 255 Indians testing positive for novel coronavirus in Iran and another 21 in other countries, the total number of Indian nationals afflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic rose to 413. The cases within the country touched 169, on March 18.
Globally, the number of cases crossed 2,00,000.
The Ministry of External Affairs confirmed in the Lok Sabha that as many as 255 pilgrims visiting Iran from Kashmir and Ladakh had been affected.
The Iranian government sent officials for inspection of the hotels where the Indian nationals were staying without maintaining quarantine conditions, Asghar Ali, one of the group leaders in Qom, told .
“More people with COVID-19 positive status will be shifted but the hotel cannot accommodate all the patients. Many patients have been unwell over the last eight days and have had no arrangement for necessary medical care,” said Mr. Ali over phone.
Nadeem Bhat, a group leader from Kashmir, calling on the Centre to intervene, said, “We will have no option but to sit on the road as the hotels will have to be evacuated and we have nowhere to go.”
A third batch of 195 Indians from Iran were brought to Jaisalmer by an Air India aircraft on March 18 evening.
After being screened at the airport, they were shifted to the Army wellness facility at the Jaisalmer military station, defence officials said. It was not immediately clear from which Iranian city these Indians had been airlifted to Jaisalmer.
“With the arrival of this batch of evacuees, the total number of quarantined people housed at the Army wellness facility in Jaisalmer rose to 484,” an Army statement said.
Cases in India
According to reports from the States, 19 new COVID-19 cases were reported within the country, while 14 persons had been discharged. The number of active cases is now 145.
Over 5,700 people, who had come in contact with positive cases, continue to be under rigorous surveillance, the government said.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which tested 1,040 samples of patients, said 500 samples were negative but is yet to release the results of the remaining 540.
Karnataka reported three fresh cases on March 18, taking the number of infections to 14. The number of cases in Ladakh rose to eight, Jammu and Kashmir to three and Tamil Nadu to two. Telangana has reported six cases, which include two foreigners. Rajasthan has also reported four cases, including that of two foreigners. Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Uttarakhand and Punjab reported one case each.
In Haryana, there were two cases, while 14 foreign nationals are being treated in a private Gurugram hospital.
A 34-year-old soldier tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Leh, Army sources said on March 18. This is the first COVID-19 case in the armed forces. The soldier, a resident of Chuhot village in Leh, came in contact with his father who had returned from Iran.
The Health Ministry on March 18 reviewed the quarantine facilities for the evacuees including the ones at the airports/other key transit points, in terms of segregation of passengers, transportation to the quarantine facilities, health check-ups etc.
The Ministry has now directed for teams to carry out regular inspection and monitor the quarantine facilities to ensure that the necessary amenities and facilities are being provided.
The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has suggested to all States and Union Territories to take necessary steps for containing the spread of COVID-19 by restricting public transport. Refunds may be provided for advance bookings by passengers, the Ministry added.
Incoming travellers, including Indian nationals, were advised to avoid non-essential travel and informed that they can be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days on their arrival in India. Indian nationals have also been advised to refrain from travelling to China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany.
Due to the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 on border controls and air travel across the world, Vistara suspended its international operations from March 20 to March 31. The airline has also temporarily adjusted domestic capacity for the months of March and April 2020 in view of reduced demand.
On March 17, GoAir announced that it was cancelling its international operations. Air India has already cancelled flights to Rome, Milan, Seoul and reduced its frequencies to Paris, Frankfurt and Madrid after the latest government advisory.