India is preparing to set up a make-shift laboratory in Iran to test 1,200 of its citizens stuck in the country before evacuating them, officials said on Wednesday. Those stranded in Iran are mostly students and pilgrims.
Four scientists from the Indian Council of Medical Research have reached Tehran, the Iranian capital, with equipment and testing kits to facilitate mandatory testing before the people board a plane to India.
“We are in touch with the Iran government, and are looking at the feasibility of setting up a lab there and arranging other logistics to be able to bring these people back. The local government there is already under pressure because of the increase in cases there, so it’s largely upon us to bring our people back. We have put a strategy in place to see how it can be managed smoothly,” said Union health minister Harsh Vardhan.
“Cases in Iran are increasing rapidly so we have to be extra careful with the process,” said the minister.
“It should take about 4-5 days before we get to know whether we will be able to test these people. Iran is dealing with a high case load itself so they are testing their own people on priority. We have the capacity to test, and we are ensuring that is done, but it will finally depend on local conditions,” said a senior health ministry official, who did not wish to be named.
India has so far evacuated 881 people in batches from the outbreak city of Wuhan in China and Japan.
In the first batch, a total of 645 people were evacuated from Wuhan on February 1 and 2, and were housed at two quarantine facilities at the Indian Army-run camp in Haryana’s Manesar and Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)-run Chhawla camp in the outskirts of Delhi.
The ITBP facility had housed 406 people, mostly families and women and seven Maldivian nationals; and the remaining people were quarantined at the Manesar facility for 15 days.
Another batch of Indians and other foreign nationals were evacuated from Wuhan and Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan on February 26.
Three Chinese women, who are married to Indians and their three children, are among 36 foreign nationals evacuated with 76 Indians from the outbreak city of Wuhan, China, and placed under 14 day quarantine in the ITBP’s Chhawla facility.
Apart from the Chinese nationals, the foreigners in the Chhawla camp are from Bangladesh (23), Myanmar (2), Maldives (2), Madagascar (1), South Africa (1) and United States (1). These people were evacuated on an Indian Air Force plane.-Hindustan Times