KEY POINTS

  • India had returned more than 650 of its citizens from China as of Sunday night
  • India has suspended e-visas for Chinese nationals
  • Two virus cases have been reported in Kerala

The Indian government on Sunday temporarily suspended the issuance of e-visas for both Chinese citizens and foreigners currently residing in China as the coronavirus crisis deepens.

E-visas that have already been issued are no longer valid.

The coronavirus has thus far killed more than 360 people and infected more than 14,500 others. The virus has also spread to 25 other countries.

“Due to certain current developments, travel to India on e-visas stands temporarily suspended with immediate effect,” the Indian Embassy in Beijing stated. “This applies to holders of Chinese passports and applicants of other nationalities residing in the People’s Republic of China. Holders of already issued e-visas may note that these are no longer valid. All those who have a compelling reason to visit India may contact the Embassy of India in Beijing or the Indian consulates in Shanghai or Guangzhou, as well as the Indian Visa Application Centers in these cities.”

The Indian health ministry also stipulated that anyone with a travel history in China since January 15 could also be quarantined.

On Sunday, India airlifted 323 Indian nationals who were trapped in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus. As of Sunday night, India had transported 654 of its people out of China.

"The [Indian] students [from Wuhan] are happy as they have been evacuated. You can see them dancing and making videos even though they have their face masks on," said an Indian government official.

The returnees have been placed in quarantine for two weeks.

The Indian government also asked its citizens to postpone any trips to China.

The Delhi government had stated that there were almost 1,200 Indian citizens in China’s Hubei province, which counts Wuhan as its capital, at the beginning of the virus saga.

Unlike many other major countries, including the U.S., India has not yet completely suspended flights to and from China. But Air India said it will cancel its Mumbai-Delhi-Shanghai flight through Feb. 14. The national carrier has also curtailed its Delhi-Hong Kong route.

Thus far, two Indians, both from Kerala, have tested positive for the coronavirus.

"Two positive cases found in Kerala are being monitored and are clinically stable," the health ministry said.

One of those infected was a female medical student who arrived in the isolation ward of the Villupuram Government Medical College and Hospital at Mundiyambakkam in Tamil Nadu on Sunday night. She complained of fever and a sore throat.

The student’s condition was reported as stable and she was being closely watched.

“Samples [of her tissue] have been taken and sent to the King Institute of Preventive Medicine and Research in Chennai for testing for coronavirus. We have [also] alerted the District Collector and the Directorate of Health Services,” a local health official said.

Kerala has been on high alert since it has a large number of students studying at the University of Wuhan.

On Friday, India prohibited the export of personal protection equipment like masks, but did not provide a reason for the measure.

Meanwhile, India is preparing for more cases of the virus. Arrangements have been made at ESIC Medical College in Alwar, Rajasthan to quarantine those return from China.

Separate from the ongoing virus, India expressed its alarm over the presence of six Chinese research vessels in the Indian Ocean over the past month.

The Indian navy warned Beijing it will retaliate if its sovereignty is “impinged.”

“We are all aware of the numbers, the tonnage, the number of [Chinese] ships, everything that is growing,” said Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh. “We have seen in the Indian Ocean region itself starting [in] 2008 when [the Chinese] came in for [an] anti-piracy patrol. Before that, they weren’t really very obvious in the Indian Ocean region but now you find that at any given time, seven to eight [Chinese People's Liberation Army] warships are in that area. We have placed our ships in mission-based deployments so that we get an idea what are the activities, not only of China but of all other countries. If anything impinges on our national interest or sovereignty, we will have to act.”

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