254 Indian pilgrims in Iran test positive

Updated: Mar 18, 2020, 08:32 IST | Agencies | New Delhi

MEA refuses to confirm or deny the development, says every care is being taken to cooperate with the Iranian government for the safety of Indians there

Pilgrims from Kargil gather outside the Indian Embassy in Tehran demanding evacuation. Pic/Twitter
Pilgrims from Kargil gather outside the Indian Embassy in Tehran demanding evacuation. Pic/Twitter

At least 254 Indian pilgrims stranded in Iran have tested positive for Covid-19, a list shared by an Indian embassy official with pilgrims shows. Several pilgrims, including the one who tested positive, told Scroll.in that the list was shared on Sunday on a WhatsApp group of pilgrims and Indian government officials.

The pilgrims claimed Indian embassy officials in Iran have assured them that all those stranded will be airlifted back to India in the next few days. "They had taken samples from almost all the stranded passengers over the last 10-12 days and now the results have come," 36-year-old Mohammad Imran, one of the pilgrims stranded in Iran, said. According to Imran, most of the Covid-19 positive patients are above 50 years old. Imran himself has tested negative. The patients belong to a group of 850 pilgrims mostly from Kargil marooned in Iran since February.

On Tuesday, the Indian authorities arranged for accommodation to isolate the Covid-19 patients and begin their treatment in Iran, said Feroz Khan, chief executive councillor, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil. "The doctors there will be Indian but it will be under the overall control of the Iranian government," Khan added. He also said that those who tested negative would be flown to India in three batches in the following days. "After that, those who are positive might be flown to India in a separate sortie," he added.

The foreign ministry has refused to confirm or deny the list of 254 individuals infected. When asked about Indian patients in Iran at the government briefing on Tuesday, Dammu Ravi, additional secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, said, "Of course in a situation like that, you will find some positive cases given the extensive spread of the virus in Iran. Rest assured that every care is being taken by the mission in cooperating and coordinating with the government of Iran for safety of Indians there."

Most of the stranded
pilgrims are quartered in hotels around the city of Qom, one of the worst hit places in Iran.

Report: Scroll.in

Trader arrested for selling cow dung, urine

A milk trader was arrested on Tuesday for selling cow dung and urine in a makeshift roadside shop in Hooghly district's Dankuni, about 20 km from Kolkata. The Hooghly district police arrested Mabud Ali for "cheating and hurting religious sentiments". Ali had from Monday started selling the two bovine excreta claiming the products would ward off Coronavirus infection. He said he took inspiration from the Hindu Mahasabha event on gomutra in Delhi. At Ali's stall, one could drink urine of cows at '500 a litre and take the dung at '500 a kilo.

Travel from Afghan, Malaysia suspended

The government has suspended air travel of passengers from Afghanistan, Philippines and Malaysia to India in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement, the government said no flight would take off from these countries to India after 3 pm. The airline shall enforce this at the port of initial departure. The suspension is temporary, the government said, adding, it shall be in force till March 31.

Thermal scanners at entry points

Taking precautionary measures, the Centre on Tuesday ordered the installation of thermal scanners at the entry points of government buildings and suspended temporary and visitors passes. The regular supply of hand sanitisers and soap must also be ensured, the Department of Personnel and Training said while announcing a slew of measures to contain the spread of the virus.

Anti-HIV drugs recommended by ministry

The Union Health Ministry has recommended use of anti-HIV drug combinations Lopinavir and Ritonavir on a case-to-case basis depending upon the severity of the condition of a patient having Coronavirus. In its revised guidelines on the 'Clinical Management of COVID – 19' issued on Tuesday, it recommended Lopinavir-Ritonavir for high-risk patients.

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