BEIJING/NEW DELHI: India on Sunday opened a third hotline for its 250-odd students and other citizens caught in the coronavirus-induced lockdown in Wuhan even as China offered to evacuate Americans stranded there, raising hopes of similar arrangements being made for Indians.
Although there is no official confirmation yet, the government is believed to have requested the Chinese authorities to enable the evacuation of Indian students in Wuhan, most of them studying medicine.
The additional hotline opened on Sunday is meant to help cope with the "large number" of phone calls the Indian embassy in Beijing has been receiving from Indians at Wuhan in Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak that has already claimed 58 lives amid fears that the rate of infection could jump 50 per cent over the next few days.
"In view of the large number of calls received on the two hotline numbers set up by the embassy of India in Beijing in connection with the outbreak of coronavirus infection, the embassy has decided to open a third hotline number +8618610952903," the embassy said in a tweet on Sunday.
The other two hotline numbers are +8618612083629 and +8618612083617.
"Over the last two days, our hotlines have fielded nearly 600 calls to respond to concerns regarding this difficult situation. The government and the embassy in Beijing are also examining all options, including through consultations with Chinese authorities, to provide relief to our affected citizens," the embassy said.
Foreign minister S Jaishankar, too, tweeted that India was closely monitoring the situation in Wuhan. "Our embassy in Beijing is constantly checking on the health and well-being of the Indians in China. Please follow @EOIBeijing for more updates on the situation."
About 700 Indian students are estimated to be studying in universities in Wuhan and its nearby areas. The majority of these students are said to have left Wuhan and other areas of Hubei province during the Chinese New Year holidays a few weeks ago. The rest stayed back, little knowing that Wuhan and 12 other cities would be sealed off to stop the coronavirus outbreak from spreading.
"As of now, we understand that no Indian citizen has been affected by the outbreak and food and water supplies are available to them," India's ambassador to China, Vikram Misri, saiRead More – Source