NEW DELHI: Over 20,400 foreign nationals have been evacuated from India and a decision on bringing Indians from abroad will be taken at a later stage after reviewing the COVID-19 situation, the government said on Friday.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the government also said there are 3.28 crore hydroxychloroquine tablets in India's stock and a decision has been taken to export some surplus medicines after reviewing the domestic requirement and keeping buffer stocks.
The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine has been cited by many as a viable therapeutic solution to fight the coronavirus infection. The Union Ministry of Health said there has been no community transmission of the novel coronavirus so far in the country.
There has been a rise of 678 COVID-19 cases and 33 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of novel coronavirus cases to 6,412 and death toll to 199 in the country.
Addressing a press briefing on the COVID-19 situation, Additional Secretary (MEA) Dammu Ravi said, "There were requests from governments of several countries. We have successfully evacuated 20,473 foreign nationals as of yesterday."
"This is an ongoing process. Some questions have come about Indians abroad. It is a situation where we cannot give a definite answer because the lockdown is still there. We need to assess the situation - it will be the government's decision on how we manage the return of Indians from other countries," he said.
"Our ambassadors and high commissioners in all these countries are in regular touch with all Indians abroad and giving all support to them. The MEA COVID control room helplines are active, teams are taking calls and guiding them in these matter. The situation is under control. We will review at a later stage about their return," Ravi said.
Ravi, who is also the COVID-19 coordinator, said, the government had received requests about hydroxychloroquine from different countries and a decision has been taken to export some surplus medicines.
"India has received requests from several countries for hydroxychloroquine. Taking into view the domestic requirement and keeping a sufficient buffer of stocks, a decision has been taken to export some surplus medicines. We have 3.28 crore of hydroxychloroquine tablets already in India's stock," Ravi said.
Health Ministry's Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said there has been a rise of 678 COVID-19 cases and 33 deaths in last 24 hours. "One hundred and forty six government labs are functional in the country and 67 private labs have been given approval for testing of COVID-19. There has been no community transmission in the country so far but we have to be alert and follow the do's and don'ts. A total of 16,002 tests were conducted yesterday and only 0.2 per cent of the cases tested positive," he said.
Agarwal pointed out that incidents of misbehaviour towards medical professionals will bring their morale down and "we need to stand by them". The officials also maintained that rumours and media reports claiming protocol has been issued by Railways regarding passenger travel for post-lockdown are speculative and incorrect.