Coronavirus outbreak: India tracks whereabouts of 450 Iranian tourists

NEW DELHI: The tourism ministry is tracking the whereabouts of 450 Iranian tourists who entered the country in February this year, in view of the spread of coronavirus in their home country, senior officials of the ministry said on Friday.
The officials said the health ministry has written to them to track these tourists who had entered India before the travel advisory became applicable for Iranian nationals.
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Iran has the third-highest number of deaths, currently standing at 124, following Italy where 148 deaths have been confirmed so far after China that has recorded the highest number of 3,042 deaths due to COVID-19.
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“Most of these tourists have not been found at the hotel addresses that they had provided on their visa application forms. Tourists often change their hotels while touring.
“We are trying to track them through tour operators and agents. However, I would like to clarify that it is not that they are infected patients of coronavirus. They are persons of interest only because they have come from a country that has reported such cases,” said a senior official of the tourism ministry.
The official also said there is no protocol in any country to keep tabs of the whereabouts of incoming tourists after they land in the country.
“We are awaiting an updated list from immigration authorities as there could be many on the present list who could have flown back to Iran. We should be able to track the rest in a day or two,” the official said.
Most of the passengers are visiting India on tourism and business visas.
Earlier on Thursday, the Ministry of External Affairs said arrangements are being made to facilitate the return of stranded Indians from Iran in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak through normal civil aviation channels.
Until Tuesday, travellers from only 12 countries were being screened for coronavirus, but after new cases erupted on Wednesday, the Union Ministry has now decided that every passenger coming on an international flight will be screened.

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