Many Indian pilgrims in Iran test positive for COVID-19

A large number of Indian pilgrims in Iran have tested positive for coronavirus and will stay back for medical treatment in the country till they recover.

The overall death toll crossed 1,800 and infections rose to around 25,000 across Iran on Sunday. Iran is one among the worst affected countries with most cases and fatalities from coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan city of China.

Top official sources, without specifying any numbers, said that a considerable number of Indian pilgrims have tested positive in Iran.

“The pilgrims are mostly in senior citizen age group and therefore vulnerable. Since they have tested positive, they will stay back, go through the medical treatment and quarantine as per the international standard protocol for coronavirus patients,” an official told IANS.

There are over 6,000 Indian nationals in various provinces of Iran. Of them, there are about 1,100 pilgrims mainly from the union territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir and the state of Maharashtra and nearly 300 students primarily from the UT of Jammu and Kashmir. Around 1,000 fishermen from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat and others stay in Iran earning their livelihood and for religious studies.

As per a video recording accessed by IANS, Indian representatives are constantly meeting Indian nationals stranded in Iran. In one such meeting between Indian representatives and Kashmiri pilgrims in Iran, it was revealed that hotels are evicting pilgrims for overstaying and for not being able to pay their dues.

The government said it is making arrangements for further evacuations as the test reports come. “Those who are testing negative are being evacuated by the government,” the official said. India has also sent trained medical teams have to Iran to help and treat Indian nationals.

So far, the government has evacuated around 400 Indians including 53 who returned on Monday, from the Iranian cities of Tehran and Shiraz. Upon their arrival, they went through a preliminary screening at the airport in New Delhi and were then sent to the Army Wellness Centre in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer.

The news of their return to India was tweeted by external affairs minister S. Jaishankar on early Monday. “Fourth batch of 53 Indians — 52 students and a teacher — has arrived from Tehran and Shiraz, Iran. With this, a total of 389 Indians have returned to India from Iran,” Jaishankar tweeted.

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