- Coronavirus has killed 80 people, infected 2,700 in China
- No Indian citizens have been affected by the virus: Foreign Ministry
- About 700 Indian students are believed to be studying in Wuhan
As China scrambles to contain the rapidly-spreading coronavirus that has killed 80 people and infected nearly 3,000, the Foreign Ministry said today that it is examining all options in consultation with the Chinese government to address the concerns of stranded Indians, including students, in Wuhan-the epicentre of the deadly infection. The Foreign Ministry, however, said that no Indian has been infected though students have been asked to take precautions.
"We are also closely coordinating with Chinese authorities. As of now, we understand that no Indian citizens have been affected by the outbreak and that food and water supplies are available to them," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
"Our Embassy and Consulates General in China will continue to work with Chinese authorities to try and help Indian citizens caught up in these difficult circumstances," he added. Mr Kumar also said that the Indian embassy in Beijing is trying to help students with possible travel options out of Hubei Province, where Wuhan is situated.
Anxious to go home, Indian students say they have formed groups to help each other and are in touch with embassy officials.
Sharath Ajit, a student at Wuhan University, told NDTV that authorities have asked them to stay indoors and stock up on essentials. "We have formed online groups with fellow students. We are trying to help each other. We also approached embassy officials to find out if we can go back home," he said. Tanishk Nanda, another student in Wuhan, said that embassy officials have been in touch with them continuously.
The Indian embassy today opened a third helpline number to handle calls from worried citizens. Over the last two days, the embassy received nearly 600 calls.
Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, has been under lockdown since being identified as the epicentre of the coronavirus. Anxious residents have been trapped inside the city, stocking up on masks and medical supplies or in long hospital queues as authorities imposed travel bans. On Friday, 450 military medics were rushed to Wuhan and the government is rushing to build two hospitals to deal with the crisis. The mayor of Wuhan today said he expects a 1,000 more cases of the deadly infection, news agency AFP reported.
About 700 Indian students are believed to be studying in several universities in the city and surrounding areas, news agency PTI reported.
Today, China ordered a temporary ban on the trade in wild animals to contain coronavirus, believed to have been spawned in a market that sold wild animals as food, AFP reported.
Lunar New Year celebrations in China have been subdued due to the coronavirus scare. Tourist attractions have been closed and public events cancelled to contain the spread of infection.
Coronavirus has spread to Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong Thailand, Nepal, Vietnam and across continents to the US, Canada, France and Australia. In India, Eleven people in four cities have been kept under observation after they returned from China.
(With inputs from PTI and AFP)