NEW DELHI: India intends to set up a laboratory in Iran so that Indians there can be tested for a possible exposure to novel coronavirus before being brought back, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Wednesday.
The Iranian government has not yet given permission for it.
An estimated 1,200 Indians, mostly students and pilgrims, are in Iran currently.
"If the Iranian government lends its support, a testing facility could be set up there as well, so that Indians there can be tested before they can be brought back," Vardhan said.
One scientist from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune has been sent to Iran while three more from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will leave at 4 pm on Wednesday to check the feasibility of setting up a laboratory there for conducting coronavirus test.
As part of the country's preparedness in containing the spread of the disease, the minister said all foreign nationals henceforth will be screened for COVID-19 at the 21 designated airports and not just the 12 countries listed earlier.
A total of 28 COVID-19 cases were detected in India so far.
Among them, one person was from Delhi, six of his relatives in Agra, 16 Italians and their Indian driver, one in Telangana and the three earlier cases in Kerala, Vardhan said.
On the other hand, Iran has so far reported over 2,000 coronavirus cases and 77 deaths.