AGENCIES, New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Wednesday that 276 Indian nationals have been identified who are infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) abroad. Out of these numbers, 255 infected cases have been reported from Iran, one of the epicentres in the Middle East. The official clarification came a day after media reports said that a large number of Indian pilgrims in Iran had tested positive for coronavirus.
As per estimates, Indians in Iran include about 1,100 pilgrims mainly from Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir and Maharashtra.
There are close to 300 students primarily from J&K, besides 1,000 members of the fishing community from different parts of India. Most Indians residing in Iran are from the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
Of the rest, 12 are also from UAE, five from Italy and one each from Hong Kong, Kuwait, Sri Lanka and Rwanda.
A team of six Indian health officials has been sent to Iran to help set up testing and sampling facilities, said minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan.
Muraleedharan also confirmed that 1,706 samples have been taken from pilgrims, students and other Indians stranded in Iran for testing. The collected samples are being tested at medical facilities including the National Institute of Virology, Pune.
As of March 16, 389 Indians, including 205 pilgrims and 183 students, have been repatriated in four batches on board special flights of the Indian Air Force and Iranian airlines.
As per latest reports, Iran’s death toll from the COVID-19 has crossed 1,000.