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Cabinet secretary reviews virus situation

The MEA was asked to make a request to Chinese government in this regard.

MEA asked to prepare for possible evacuation of Indians in Wuhan, initiate screening at India-Nepal border.

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet secretary on Monday reviewed the situation arising out of novel coronavirus outbreak in China during which the ministry of external affairs (MEA) was asked to prepare for possible evacuation of Indian nationals in Wuhan. The MEA was asked to make a request to Chinese government in this regard.

Besides, the home ministry was asked to ensure that integrated checkposts along the India-Nepal border initiate screening of visitors and the civil aviation ministry was told to issue instructions to airlines for managing and notifying anybody reporting illness on all flights with direct or indirect connectivity to China.

Senior officials of civil aviation said that a flight and crew has been kept on a standby in Mumbai and will be pressed into operations following clearance from the MEA. However, the larger concern remains about quarantining of so many people who will be flown in from China, officials said. During Monday’s meeting with the Cabinet secretary, civil aviation and health ministries were told to make arrangements for quarantine facilities of the Indians coming back from China.

The Indian embassy in Beijing tweeted on Monday asking Indian nationals not in possession of their passports to inform them immediately.

“We have learnt that some of the Indian nationals are currently not in possession of their passports, which have been submitted to Chinese authorities for visa extension/ work permit/ other reasons. All those presently in Hubei province and not in personal possession of their passports are requested to intimate us with the following details: Name; Passport number; To whom (which Chinese authority) has the passport been submitted to; and Date on which the passport was submitted. These details may please be furnished urgently to Mr. Sondhi, who is an official with @EOIBeijing,” Indian embassy said.

The embassy also asked Indian nationals in Wuhan/Hubei province to inform them if they encounter shortage of food, water and other essential supplies and provide with the exact location so that the Indian diplomats can work with the Chinese authorities to ensure that essential supplies reaches them.

Secretary, ministry of civil aviation, Mr Pradeep Singh Kharola, said that the government has intensified scanning of passengers coming from China both directly and indirectly for the coronavirus and a total of 12 airports are being monitored closely.

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