The tourism ministry tracks the whereabouts of 450 Iranian tourists who entered the country in February

NEW DELHI: The tourism ministry is tracking the whereabouts of 450 Iranian tourists who entered the country in February this year, in view of the spread in their home country, senior ministry officials said Friday.

Officials said the health ministry wrote to track down these tourists who had entered India before the travel notice was applicable to Iranian citizens.

Iran has the third highest number of deaths, currently at 124, after Italy, where so far 148 deaths have been confirmed after China, which has recorded the highest number of 3,042 deaths due to COVID-19.

Most of these tourists have not been found in the addresses of the hotels they had provided on their visa application forms. Tourists often change their hotels while traveling.

We are trying to track them through tour operators and agents. However, I would like to clarify that it is not that they are patients infected with coronaviruses. They are people of interest just because they have come from a country that has reported such cases, said a senior tourism ministry official.

The official also said there is no protocol in any country to control the whereabouts of incoming tourists after they land in the country.

We are waiting for an updated list of immigration authorities, as there could be many on the current list who could have returned to Iran. We should be able to track the rest in a day or two, the official said.

Most passengers visit India with tourist and business visas.

Earlier on Thursday, the Foreign Ministry said arrangements are being made to facilitate the return of stranded Indians from Iran through normal civil aviation channels.

Until Tuesday, travelers from just 12 countries were being screened for coronaviruses, but after new cases emerged on Wednesday, the Ministry of the Union has decided that every passenger who comes on an international flight will be examined.