28 January 2020
New Delhi/Beijing: India on Tuesday started the preparations for evacuating the Indian nationals trapped in Wuhan city, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) epidemic, placed under a lockdown.
In a series of tweets, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: "We have begun the process to prepare for evacuation of Indian nationals affected by the situation arising out of nCorona-2019 virus outbreak in Hubei Province. Our embassy in Beijing is working out the logistics and is in touch with the Chinese government and our nationals on this matter."
Over 500 Indian students are studying in colleges and universities of Wuhan city in Hubei province. However, a large number of them had departed for home just ahead of the outbreak of the 2019-nCoV.
Sources said the government was working with the Chinese authorities to make an assessment about the number of people stranded in Wuhan. Indian nationals have also been asked to submit their passport details to the embassy in Beijing, sources said.
The Indian embassy in Beijing on social media has noted that some Indian nationals were not in possession of their passports because they have submitted them to the Chinese authorities for visa extension or work permit or other reasons. All the Indian nationals presently in Hubei province and not in personal possession of their passports, have been requested to intimate the embassy with details such as name, passport number, etc.
They have also been asked to inform the embassy about the Chinese authority whom they submitted their passport to and the date on which the passport was submitted. The details are to be sent to an official of the embassy at WeChat ID, sondhi_0808.
China on Tuesday confirmed that 106 people had died because of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and around 5,000 people were diagnosed with the 2019-nCoV related pneumonia. Wuhan city, with an 11 million population, has been placed under lockdown after all transport was suspended and movement of people outside their homes prohibited.
The National Health Commission said in its daily report that 976 patients remained in critical condition, and 6,973 people were suspected of being infected with the virus as of the end of Monday.
Almost 50,000 people were identified in close contact with the infected patients out of which around 45,000 are under medical observation.