The Union Ministry of External Affairs is preparing for an evacuation of Indian citizens from Wuhan, the Chinese city beset by an outbreak of novel coronavirus which has infected thousands.
The novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCov, has led to more than 4,000 infections at the time of writing with a death toll of 106. The Government of India is seeking to evacuate people from the city of Wuhan, with the Indian Embassy in Beijing coordinating with the Chinese government. “We have begun the process to prepare for evacuation of Indian nationals affected by the situation arising out of Corona-2019 virus outbreak in Hubei Province, China,” said a spokesperson. The city – located in China’s Hubei province – is in a situ of lockdown.
45-year-old Preeti Maheshwari, an Indian teacher at an international school, was among those confirmed to have contracted the virus. The Government of India has been monitoring its population in Wuhan. “We are in China, in the hot zone. So many medical students had booked the tickets to come back [in] India but now [the] airport is closed..so better evacuate asap,” tweeted one student (among the hundreds of Indians enrolled in Chinese universities).
Meanwhile, in the wake of cases being reported in Nepal, vigilance is being stepped up at border checkpoints, airports and hotels in states bordering the country. “We have advised the states to coordinate with hotels’ associations for wider self-reporting by travellers from Nepal visiting religious and other tourist places,” explained Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare secretary Preeti Sudan.
Countries including Hong Kong and Russia are clamping down on travel from Hubei and mainland China as the virus spreads. Others, including Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, are preparing to evacuate their respective citizens from Hubei.
Cases have been reported across multiple countries spanning several continents. As well as Nepal, there are confirmed cases in Australia, Canada, Cambodia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Korea, the United States, and Vietnam. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that coronavirus risk is “very high in China, high at the regional level and high at the global level”, acknowledging it had earlier misstated the risk to be “moderate.”