Coronavirus, Wuhan, India, China, quarantined, Air India
Indian nationals after they were brought by an Air India aircraft from China's coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan, stand in a queue at a quarantine facility set up by ITBP, at Chhawla area in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

2nd coronavirus case in India, e-visa suspended for Chinese citizens

With the death toll due to coronavirus outbreak touching 300, India on Sunday (February 2) reported a second case of the virus from Kerala and as a safety measure suspended e-visa services for Chinese citizens and foreigners in China on a temporary basis.

With the death toll due to coronavirus outbreak touching 300, India on Sunday (February 2) reported a second case of the virus from Kerala and as a safety measure suspended e-visa services for Chinese citizens and foreigners in China on a temporary basis.

On evacuation mode

An Air India special flight on Sunday also evacuated 323 Indians and seven Maldivian citizens out of Wuhan, the epicentre of coronavirus. On Saturday (February 1), a special Indian flight had evacuated the first batch of 324 Indians from the Chinese city.

The first batch of evacuees were have been quarantined at a special facility in Manesar near Delhi. On Sunday, a video surfaced showing a group of quarantined residents dancing in their dormitory. The evacuees, in the video that went viral on social media, were praised for not letting their ordeal dampen their spirits.

The quarantined evacuees have been asked to wear three-layered masks and undergo daily examinations. They will be allowed to go home if they do not show any symptoms of coronavirus after 14 days.

Maldives president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has thanked India for lending a hand in the evacuation of seven of its nations, calling it was an example of the “outstanding” friendship and camaraderie between the two countries.

“My thanks and gratitude to PM @narendramodi, EM @DrSJaishankar and the Government of India for expeditiously evacuating the 7 Maldivians residing in Wuhan, China. This gesture is a fine example of the outstanding friendship and camaraderie between our two countries,” Solih tweeted.

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Maldivian foreign minister Abdulla Shahid also expressed his “deep gratitude” to Modi and his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar for the evacuation of Maldivian citizens. He also thanked India’s Ambassador to the Maldives Sunjay Sudhir and Indian envoy to China Vikram Misri.

In response, the Indian Embassy in Maldives tweeted that the action “reflects historic ties of kinship between us, &, synergy between #NeighbourhoodFirst & #IndiaFirst policies.”

The Kerala government while announcing the second case of novel coronavirus, said the state was awaiting the results from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) at Pune. “We have been informed telephonically by NIV Pune that there is a possibility of another positive case. But since there is a possibility we have to be extremely vigilant. We are yet to receive the results.

The suspected case is of a student of Wuhan University, state health Minister KK Shailaja told the media at Kollam. The student who had returned from China on January 24, is undergoing treatment at an isolation ward in Alappuzha Medical College Hospital. India’s first case of coronavirus was reported from Thrissur in Kerala.

Till date, 1,793 people who travelled from coronavirus affected countries have been identified and placed under surveillance in Kerala. Of this, 70 have been admitted in selected isolation facilities and 1,723 are under home isolation.

No e-visa for Chinese citizens

Announcing its decision to temporarily suspend e-visa facility for Chinese travellers and foreigners residing in China in view of the coronavirus outbreak, the Indian Embassy said that those in emergency situation can directly contact it or its consulates in China.

“All those who have a compelling reason to visit India may contact the Embassy of India in Beijing or the Indian consulates in Shanghai or Guangzhou, as well as the Indian Visa Application Centres in these cities,” it said.

The e-visa facility for Chinese nationals was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to China in 2015 as a confidence building measure as well as an attempt to ease visa restrictions to attract more Chinese tourists.

With the spread of the coronavirus, a number of countries have temporarily stopped issuing visas to Chinese nationals and have imposed travel ban on visitors from China. The US has imposed a 14-day travel ban on all visitors from China, regardless of their nationality. US citizens arriving from Hubei province will have to undergo 14-day mandatory quarantine on arrival, while those traveling any other part of China will face screening and monitoring. Singapore has stopped issuing all types of visas to Chinese travellers, while Vietnam has halted tourist visas. Russia announced on Saturday it would halt visa-free tourism for Chinese nationals and also stop issuing them work visas. It had already stopped issuing electronic visas to Chinese nationals. Similar visa restrictions have been imposed by the Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and the African nation of Mozambique.

First death outside China

The latest case of death was reported from The Philippines, making it the first death outside China. The fatality is a 44-year-old Chinese man, a resident of Wuhan, who reportedly was infected before arriving in the Philippines. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the WHO representative to the Philippines, however, clarified that it was not a locally acquired case, as the patient came from the epicentre of this outbreak.

The man had arrived in The Philippines with a 38-year-old Chinese woman who had also tested positive for the virus, health secretary Francisco Duque said. She is the first case of virus in the country and is recovering in the hospital.

One swab sample enough for testing, says WHO

Meanwhile, in a fresh set of instructions, WHO has said that testing of only one swab sample is enough, as against the earlier two, in suspected novel coronavirus cases, a senior Maharashtra health official said on Sunday. The new WHO instructions will ensure faster testing of samples which will quicken the fight against the 2019-nCoV outbreak, the official said. The blood samples from people with suspected symptoms of coronavirus are being sent to NIV (National Institute of Virology in Pune) for testing.

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The virus that emerged in early December and traced to a market in Hubei capital Wuhan that sold wild animals, has now spread to 25 countries, infecting 14,000 people and killing 300.

(With inputs from agencies)

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