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Coronavirus: Govt in talks with Iran to bring back Indians; Iranian flight to bring 300 swabs

The government is in discussions with Iranian authorities and a ferry flight, carrying around 300 swabs of Indians suspected of having coronavirus infection, from Tehran is to land in the national capital on Friday, according to officials.

PTI PTI
New Delhi Published on: March 06, 2020 19:15 IST
Coronavirus: Govt in talks with Iran to bring back Indians; Iranian flight to bring 300 swabs
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Coronavirus: Govt in talks with Iran to bring back Indians; Iranian flight to bring 300 swabs

The government is in discussions with Iranian authorities and a ferry flight, carrying around 300 swabs of Indians suspected of having coronavirus infection, from Tehran is to land in the national capital on Friday, according to officials. The flight, to be operated by Iran's Mahan Air, would not have any passengers and Iranians in India would be taken back in the return flight.

There are around 2,000 Indians in Iran, one of the countries which has been severely affected by the coronavirus outbreak. A similar number of Indians are also there in the Persian Gulf country. Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola on Friday said the first flight from Iran would be carrying the swabs.

"We are monitoring the situation on a daily basis, hourly basis... it will be a ferry flight coming with swabs," Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said at a press conference here. As the government looks at another initiative to bring back Indians in coronavirus-hit countries, Kharola said while Indians come here, it should be made sure that they are in a healthy condition. The health ministry is planning to set up advanced testing facilities in Iran itself. Before they board the flight, a test can be done for these passengers, he added.

A team of medical experts has reached Iran and it would be setting up a basic medical testing facility there. "Another option is that we are trying to collect the samples, swabs... on the first flight that comes to India, these swabs will be brought. They will be tested in India and within a day.... the results will be known," Kharola noted.  Aviation regulator DGCA's chief Arun Kumar said 300 swabs are expected to be come in the Mahan Air flight. Based on the outcome of the tests, those passengers who test negative would be allowed to come to the country later, he added. Many of the Indians currently in Iran are pilgrims, he said.

Last month, India suspended flights from Iran in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Iranian carriers were operating three flights a week to both Delhi and Mumbai.

"We will allow temporarily Iran to bring in their flights and when they go back, they will be evacuating their people stranded here (India)," Kharola said. The government has already evacuated hundreds of Indians from Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, as well as many who onboard on a coronavirus-hit cruise ship docked off Yokohama in Japan.

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