PM Modi writes to Xi Jinping, offers help to combat coronavirus outbreak in China

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping. (File photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday offered India's assistance to China to deal with the outbreak of novel Coronavirus that has claimed over 800 lives so far.

In a letter addressed to Chinese President Xi Jinping, PM Modi expressed solidarity with the premier and also conveyed his condolences at the unfortunate loss of lives due to the outbreak. PM Modi also thanked Xi Jinping for facilitating the evacuation of 647 Indian citizens from Hubei province earlier this month.

In a complex 96-hour long operation, that involved engagement of Beijing and New Delhi at multiple levels, as many as 647 Indians and seven Maldivians were evacuated from Wuhan, ground zero of the novel coronavirus by two special Air India flights.

Explained: How India evacuated 654 individuals from Wuhan due to coronavirus outbreak

The death toll due to the outbreak surged past 800 in China on Sunday, surpassing the number of fatalities of the SARS epidemic of 2002-03. SARS had killed 774 people and sickened 8,098, mainly in mainland China and Hong Kong.  Overall, the new novel coronavirus has affected 37,198 people so far.

In India, three positive cases of coronavirus, all in Kerala, have been identified so far. Earlier, the state on Friday had lifted its ‘state disaster’ status that was declared after the three students who returned from China’s Wuhan, tested positive.

Also read | How Kerala, China are tackling coronavirus

India too has put restrictions on the movement of people to and from China as part of precautionary measures to contain the spread of the virus. Earlier this week, Union Minister Harsh Vardha in Rajya Sabha declared that existing visas would no longer be valid for any foreign national traveling from China.

Making a suo motu statement in Upper House, Vardhan said that the government has asked people not to travel to China and that it will mandatorily quarantine anyone returning from China.