NEW DELHI: A number of embassies in New Delhi have issued advisories for their staff, giving them the option of leaving India as the coronavirus pandemic is sweeping through the country with no signs of abating.
Since late April India has been reporting the world’s highest daily tally of coronavirus cases. It surpassed 401,000 new cases and 4,000 virus-related deaths on Saturday. Coronavirus positivity rate in seven Indian states, including the capital, New Delhi, has crossed 30 percent according to health ministry data.
As India's medical infrastructure is overwhelmed by a shortage of beds and oxygen supplies to treat coronavirus ill and the disease outbreaks have been reported at several foreign missions. At some of them staff members have been allowed to leave the country.
The US, Germany and Poland earlier this week said they had approved the voluntary departure of their government employees from India because of the COVID-19 surge.
According to a CNN report on Saturday, at the US embassy more than 200 staff have contracted the virus and had the US State Department has to conduct a medical evacuation from the country.
The embassy's spokesman told Arab News the mission is "closely monitoring the situation and we will take all necessary measures to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our employees, including offering vaccines to employees."
Citing privacy concerns, he declined comment on the scale of the embassy outbreak or evacuation process.
Germany, meanwhile, confirmed several members of its embassy staff had returned home.
"German Embassy has opened the possibility for staff and families to return to Germany," the embassy's spokesman, Hans Christian Winkler, told Arab News. He added, however, that there was no "repatriation process" as only "a small number" of embassy workers have left so far.
Also the Polish Foreign Ministry told Arab News in a written statement that it had "presented the employees of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in New Delhi with an option of returning to Poland."
The statement came after last week's Polish media reports that a senior diplomat from the country's New Delhi embassy had been airlifted back to Warsaw for hospitalization after contracting COVID-19.
The Swiss embassy admitted that two of its "transferable staff" are in Switzerland but the ambassador, Dr. Ralf Heckner, said that they had been home "from the beginning of this long COVID crisis," while no other staff members had left any of the country's missions in India.
The French embassy declined comment on whether its staff had received any advisory regarding permission to leave India.