BEIJING: India on Sunday said it has set up a third hotline at the Indian embassy in Beijing to field calls about the welfare of Indian stranded in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the global coronavirus scare.
India said it is examining "all options" in consultation with the Chinese government to address the plight of over 250 Indians, including students, stranded there.
"In view of the large number of calls received on the two hotline numbers set up by @EOIBeijing in connection with the outbreak, @EOIBeijing has decided to open a third hotline number +8618610952903," the embassy said in a tweet.
The other two hotline numbers are 8618612083629 and +8618612083617, it said.
The toll in the deadly viral outbreak in China rose to 56 Sunday with the number of confirmed cases of viral affliction reaching 2,008 , including 23 from aborad, Chinese health authorities said.
India on Sunday opened a third hotline in view of the large number of phone calls from Indian students, the Indian Embassy in Beijing said.
The embassy has also said it is "examining all options" and holding consultations with the Chinese to provide relief to Indians up in Wuhan.
"Over the last two days our hotlines have fielded nearly 600 calls to respond to concerns regarding this difficult situation. GoI and @EOIBeijing are also examining all options, including through consultations with the Chinese authorities, to provide relief to our affected citizens," another tweet by the embassy said.
The reference to "all options" was seen as a pointer to explore the option to evacuate the stranded Indians.
The pneumonia outbreak was first reported in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province in December 2019.
Experts have attributed the outbreak to a new strain of coronavirus that has since spread across China and abroad.
About 700 Indian students are believed to have been enrolled in several universities in the city and surrounding areas.
Wuhan along 12 other cities have been completely sealed by the Chinese authorities to stop the virus from spreading.
While the majority of the Indian students, mostly medical students reported to have left a few weeks ago for the Chinese New Year holidays, 250-300 are still reportedly in the city, causing concerns to their parents back home.
A number of Indian PHD students also study in different universities in Wuhan and surrounding areas.
Some students managed to leave before the city just before it was sealed off on January 23.
In a rare move, the Indian embassy on Sunday cancelled the Republic Day ceremony, owing to the concern over the virus which has spread to all provinces except Tibet.
China is reported to have permitted the US to evacuate its diplomats and citizens from Wuhan.
US has a consulate in Wuhan. Roughly 1,000 American citizens are thought to be in Wuhan, a report in the state-run China Daily said.
As the US plans to evacuate its citizens from Wuhan, Chinese Foreign Ministry said: "Following international customary practices, China makes arrangements that are consistent with our epidemic control measures and provides necessary assistance and convenience".
Reports say the US has already shut its consulate in Wuhan and prepared to airlift the diplomats and some of the stranded Americans to San Francisco where they would be kept under observation.
Global Times reported that France and South Korea plan to airlift their citizens stranded in Wuhan....