India evacuates thousands of its nationals from COVID-19 epicentres

The Ministry of External Affairs has arranged for flights to bring back stranded Indian nationals  from COVID-19 affected countries, starting from China where the outbreak of the novel coronavirus started. It continues to bring Indian nationals home, working hand in hand with  Indian High Commissions, airline industry and officials in several countries.

“India works because countless Indians do”, tweeted Minister of Home Affairs S Jaishankar putting into perspective India’s valiant efforts against COVID-19 in a nutshell. 

Indians onboard Diamond Princess Cruise Ship 

Indian nationals on board quarantined ship Diamond Princess Cruise were also extended a helping hand by the MEA. 

All Indian nationals on board Diamond Princess Cruise ship have since been brought back to India and will go through the mandatory quarantine period as per WHO guidelines

India in Philippines

Hundreds of Indians studying in the Philippines, found themselves stranded in the islands amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

The Philippines had given outsiders 72 hours to get off the islands before lockdown was initiated, even as India banned entry of people from the Philippines and other high risk countries. The 72 hour embargo by President Duterte was later lifted. 

Students rushed to catch the earliest flight and managed to get out of the Philippines but got stranded in Kuala Lumpur airport due to the Movement Control Order which had been imposed in Malaysia. 

By then the Centre had banned the entry of flights from Malaysia as well, in order to try and contain the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.  

The stranded students took to social media, asking the Indian government to rescue them. Several of them reached out to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) India and the Indian High Commission Malaysia as well. 

India in Malaysia

Minister of Home Affairs S Jaishankar  tweeted that flights had been arranged to fly the close to 300 students back to India, in his response to the  trending requests .

The students were soon tweeting their thanks to the MEA, having landed in India even as the Indian High Commission in Malaysia thanked Air Asia and all officials involved in getting the students home. 

India in UK

Indians in UK whose visas are expiring but are unable to leave are also being helped as updated in a couple of tweets by the Indian High Commission UK. 

India in Italy

A couple of weeks earlier Italy had become the new epicentre of COVID-19. Close to 1.6 lakh Indians live and work in Italy apart from around 3,800 students who study there in various universities. 

Their evacuation got delayed due to the heavy pressure on the Italian medical infrastructure due to the meteoric rise in cases in Italy.

The Indian government then sent its own medical team to facilitate mandatory testing of Indian nationals for COVID-19 at the embassy, before clearing them for the flight back home.

The medical team from India worked diligently to complete the tests and send the swabs in to await the results and reports. 

Even as many have flown back from Italy there are still more than 300 students in Rome and other areas waiting to fly back home to India. 

India in Iran

In Iran many Indian pilgrims were stranded even as the country leap-frogged to the top three position by logging in thousands of confirmed coronavirus cases earlier this month. 

The pilgrims as well as other Indian nationals were flown back home by the MEA and Indian High Commission Iran as seen through a series of tweets:

The number of positive cases of coronavirus in India is at 151, which includes 25 foreign nationals and 126 Indians, according to the health ministry's website.