The Pulse | Security | South Asia

India Evacuates Citizens, Others From China, Iran Amid COVID-19

India has retrieved more than 800 of its citizens from overseas amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ankit Panda
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India Evacuates Citizens, Others From China, Iran Amid COVID-19
Credit: U.S. Air Force by Jet Fabara via Wikimedia Commons

The Indian government has evacuated 890 of its citizens from countries affected by the 2019 coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, the country’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in a statement on Monday.

“Government of India undertook evacuation operations from several countries in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak,” the Ministry noted. “So far, Government of India has evacuated 890 passengers from COVID-19 affected countries. Out of these, 842 were Indian citizens and 48 belonging to different nationalities including Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh, China, US, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa and Peru,” it added.

The first evacuation operations carried out by India focused on the Chinese city of Wuhan, in Hubei province, which was the epicenter of the outbreak beginning in January 2020. 324 Indian citizens were evacuated from Wuhan on February 1 and, upon arrival in India, 104 of these Indian citizens were quarantined at the Indo-Tibetan Border Police’s Chhawla Camp. An additional 30 were moved to a separate Indian Army facility for monitoring.

“All of these evacuees were placed in the isolation facilities for 14 days,” the Indian statement noted. “They were tested twice and were found negative for COVID-19.” Afterwards, the Wuhan evacuees were discharged, on February 18.

A separate Indian Air Force evacuation mission retrieved 112 people, including 76 Indian citizens, from Hubei province more broadly. The Indian mission also included “citizens of Myanmar, Bangladesh, Maldives, China, USA, Madagascar and South Africa,” the Indian statement noted.

Another notable Indian evacuation effort focused on 16 COVID-19 diagnosed Indian citizens (out of more than 700 positive cases of COVID-19 in general) that had been quarantined on board the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship, which was kept in the waters off the Japanese port of Yokohama for several days.

The Indian government oversaw a chartered flight to retrieve 124 passengers from the Diamond Princess, including “5 foreign nationals from Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa and Peru.” The Ministry’s statement noted that the 16 COVID-19 positive Indian nationals were “undergoing treatment” actively.

Another part of the Indian evacuation effort has focused on Iran. For Indians in Iran, the Indian Air Force send a C-17 Globemaster III heavy military transport aircraft to Tehran. The C-17 flew to Tehran to retrieve Indian students and other citizens who had been unable to leave Iran, which has experienced one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks outside of China.

As of March 10, India had reported 56 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with four patients recovered from the disease. More than 110,000 worldwide have been diagnosed with the disease, with more than 3,800 deaths.