Faced with the looming threat of Covid-19, and more specifically the task of ensuring the safety of Indian nationals abroad, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) has set up a special cell to coordinate all responses to the developing situation both internally and externally. The government sent another flight to Milan Saturday to evacuate around 200-250 Indians from Italy.
The cell, which is headed by additional secretary Dammu Ravi, will work with Indian missions abroad to bring back Indian nationals stranded in countries which have been severely affected by the novel coronavirus. Ravi will be assisted by 4 other officials in the ministry.
Official sources said external affairs minister (EAM) S Jaishankar and foreign secretary H V Shringla were both personally monitoring the situation, allowing the MEA to mobilise all resources.
“MEA has been part of the close inter-ministerial coordination that has helped in securing us against a rapid spread of the virus. Under the leadership of the EAM, over 1200 Indian nationals stranded in different parts of the world have been safely evacuated, said Shringla. A 24×7 control room has also been set up to reach out to different parts of the world where Indian nationals might be in need of help.
Jaishankar had also also travelled to Srinagar on 9th March and met with the families of Indian students in Iran to hear their concerns.
Indias mission in Beijing has drawn special praise for working out the necessary logistics during the evacuation from Wuhan. The mission also put in efforts to coordinate with Indians living in Hubei province. “Tasks involved collating the list of Indians over WeChat and Emails, make transport arrangements for people from different cities amidst the lock down (some over 500 kms), as the areas was locked down, deploying officers in Wuhan and then bringing them safely on two Boeing 747 aircraft to Delhi, said a source.
Indias missions in Iran and Italy are in regular touch with Indian nationals including students, community members and are asking them to follow all health protocols amidst the outbreak and subsequent lockdown, sources said.
Indian medical teams have also reached both countries to test Indian nationals for the virus. Indian missions in the US are currently coordinating evacuation of Indian nationals quarantined on board the Covid-Read More – Source