New Delhi [India], Feb 17 (ANI): Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday said that India has offered help, including evacuation and quarantine facilities, to the South East Asian countries for combating the deadly coronavirus that has claimed more than 1700 lives in mainland China.
"We have offered help to the South East Asian countries, including research and medicines. We also offered help to the Maldivians who have been shifted to the Chhawla camp. We are not averse to helping anybody," the minister said after meeting the people who will be discharged this week after their health reports pertaining to the virus test were found negative.
The Health Minister visited the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) Quarantine Facility in Chhawla in southwest Delhi earlier today to meet the first batch of Indians, who came from Wuhan in the wake of the coronavirus, as they are about to leave for their homes after completing all health screening for the deadly virus outbreak.
When asked regarding the total suspected cases of the coronavirus reported so far in India, Harsh Vardhan stressed, "We are not counting for suspects instead we are undertaking extra precautions."
"I am very happy that all our Indians and Maldivian citizens who came from Wuhan on February 1-2 are leaving for their home. I am happy that you are healthy and fit and now all will move to their houses. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was from day one concerned about the people who were stuck in China," he said.
A total of 406 people who were airlifted returned from the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province, the epicentre of coronavirus, earlier this month were being looked after at the quarantine facility of ITBP.
Appreciating the efforts undertaken by the Government of India in evacuating Indian citizens from Wuhan, Nausheen from Gurgaon, one among the airlifted ones who were quarantined in the ITBP health camp said, "This was a really very important step. For this, our country has been represented at various levels. We thank the Indian government. Our exams were about to begin in Chinese universities. But due to the virus outbreak, the exams have been postponed to April."
Another quarantined individual from the Maldives told ANI, "It was actually such a relief. Staying in Wuhan at such a point of time was very difficult both mentally and physically. I would like to thank the Indian government in every single place wherever they were involved in the total process. Even in the camps, the organisers provided us food for three times in a day, along with medicines and regular checkups."
Reiterating similar sentiments, Vishal Khatak, a 4th-year MBBS student from Hubei University in Xiangyang said, "Everything was under lockdown. We didn't expect that the Indian government would be undertaking such a relief effort within no time."
Harsh Vardhan further noted that other batches will also be arriving in India in the next few days from China, who will be quarantined at the same ITBP camp.
The Health Minister, meanwhile, appreciated the efforts undertaken by the Home Ministry, External Affairs Ministry, Civil Aviation and all other ministries and departments who were involved in the evacuation process of the Indian nationals from Wuhan.
A total of 650 people were brought back from Wuhan in China on February 1- 2 in two 747 Boeing Air India aircraft after the outbreak of the novel virus in China. While 406 of these are being looked after at the ITBP facility, rest is at an Army center at Manesar in Haryana.
The death toll from the COVID-19 epidemic outbreak has climbed to 1770 in mainland China and infected more than 70,000 others so far. (ANI)