BEIJING: The India embassy in China has cancelled the Republic Day ceremony in view of the coronavirus outbreak which has killed 25 people and infected over 800 others. The Indian mission on Friday took to social media to announce the cancelation of the celebrations scheduled for January 26.
We take this occasion to wish all the Indian expatriate community in China a very happy Republic Day.— India in China (@EOIBeijing) January 24, 2020
"In view of the evolving situation due to the coronavirus outbreak in China as well as the decision of the Chinese authorities to cancel public gathering and events,@EOIBeijing has also decided to call off the Republic Day reception scheduled to be held @EOIBeijing on January 26th," the embassy said on Twitter.
According to the latest reports, the death toll in the deadly coronavirus has climbed to 25 with confirmed cases rising sharply to 830, mostly in China's Hubei province.
Beijing has reported 26 cases so far. China has locked down eight cities including Wuhan to prevent the virus from spreading. On Thursday, the embassy hosted Republic day reception in which Chinese officials and members of Beijing-based diplomatic community took part. Vice Foreign Minister and China's former ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui was the Chief Guest at the reception.
There is also a global concern over the health of foreign nationals, including Indians, caught in the midst.
The railway network ceased to function in as many as five cities — Wuhan, Huanggang, Ezhou, Chibi and Zhijiang — and people were advised to avoid non-essential travel.
Also, Lunar New Year events were cancelled in Beijing, as China scrambled to limit transmission of the virus that killed one more person on Thursday, taking the toll to 18. In Hong Kong, two-holiday camps were converted into quarantine zones.
There was confusion about an Indian infected in Saudi Arabia, as initial reports said a nurse hailing from Kerala tested positive. Later, the Indian mission in Jeddah tweeted she was suffering from a different strain of coronavirus — MERS-CoV — and not the Wuhan virus, called 2019-nCoV.
She hails from Ettumanoor in Kottayam and works at the Al-Hayat National Hospital in the Khamis Mushait region. She reportedly got infected after exposure to a Filipino patient at the hospital. The affected nurse is recovering well, junior foreign minister V Muraleedharan had tweeted earlier.
There were also reports of 30 other nurses from Kerala being quarantined at the hospital, though minister Muraleedharan claimed all other Indian nurses there tested negative for the virus. With the virus creating panic, parents of students from Karnataka studying in different universities of Wuhan and other cities in China were worried about their wellbeing. Also, there are about 40 Keralite families in Beijing.
The Union Health Ministry said over 12,000 passengers from China have been screened at airports so far, but no positive case was found.
Addressing the gathering, Indian ambassador to China Vikram Misri said that 2020 is an important year for the bilateral ties as it marks the 70th year of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
"It is worth noting that India was one of the first non-socialist countries to recognise the People's Republic of China (PRC). This is an important opportunity to review our journey and set new goals together," he said.
Misri said that the second informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held at Chennai last year was highly successful and productive. "It provided new impetus for the growth of the India-China relations across the political, military-economic and trade, cultural and people-to-people relations," he said.
The Indian envoy said that a broader and deeper relations between the two countries can enable to serve as a factor of stability in a complex and evolving world. Seventy events will be held to mark the 70th year of diplomatic relations between the two neighbours.
(With ENS Inputs)