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Update 4/27/21 4:11 PST: We’ve learned that four FSNs have died at US Mission India due to COVID. One died in November, and three have died in the current second wave. We understand that there’s “a ton of infections” at US Mission India. While most of those ill are locally employed staff, there are some U.S. direct hire Americans who are also sick. There is speculation that most of the infection occurred before the vaccine shots became available. The Mission has now gone back to Phase 1 mostly conducting telework. We understand that family members are now on authorized departure but we have not seen the official announcement yet.
CNN is reporting that a COVID outbreak at US Mission India has resulted in the death of two locally employed staffers, and over 100 positive cases “in recent weeks.” The report did not indicate which posts the outbreak occurred.
During the Daily Press Briefing of April 26, one of the reporters asked about the outbreak, and here is the official non-answer:
QUESTION: Can you speak to reports of a outbreak among U.S. diplomatic staff in India, say how many are affected, and if perhaps, considering that, the U.S. might be looking at authorized departure?
MR PRICE: So I’m not in the position to confirm any cases within our staff. Obviously, privacy considerations limit what we can say. But as I have mentioned during the course of this briefing alone, India is enduring a deeply concerning outbreak, and the entire country has been affected. We obviously do have a large diplomatic presence within India. It is tantamount to the deep engagement and partnership we have with India. But I’m not in a position to speak to any cases within our staff or embassy community.
During the COVID outbreak in January at U.S. Forces Korea, USFK reported:
“19 new infections at Yongsan between Jan. 5 and Thursday. It provided no further information about the five late Thursday. Of the remaining 14, four are Defense Department employees, six are contractors, two are spouses, one is a dependent and one is a South Korean taxi driver.”
Unlike DOD, the State Department almost always hide behind “privacy considerations” when asked to account for the welfare of its employees overseas. We can understand if Department officials do not want to talk about a potential authorized departure order but note that the other question asked was for the number of employees affected by the COVD outbreak at US Mission India. The reporter was not asking for identifying information; the question was not an invasion of an infected employee’s privacy. We want to know how many employees and family members have been affected by the pandemic at US Mission India and wehat is State doing about it. If as reported, medical facilities have been running out of oxygen and ICU beds, are there medevac flights?
OPM: Under what circumstances should an agency communicate to its employees that there is a confirmed case among one or more of its employees (without identifying the person/specific office)? View
The most recent publicly available information on staffing is from 2018. It indicates that the U.S. diplomatic mission in India which consists of the embassy in New Delhi and consulates general in Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata, employed more than 2,500 U.S. and foreign nationals. As with other diplomatic posts, several agencies are represented at the mission, including the U.S. Commercial Service, the Foreign Agriculture Service, and elements of the Departments of Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, Treasury, and Health and Human Services.
The 2018 report also indicates that almost 40 percent of mission staff worked at the four constituent posts, and the Consuls General were in charge of staffs ranging from 183 in Kolkata to 391 in Mumbai. That means Embassy Delhi has about 60% of the total staff or around 1,500 U.S. and foreign nationals. These numbers do not include family members and members of household at Mission India. However, we estimate that the number of family members/MOH at post could not be over 533. The Family Liaison Office’s data from Fall 2020 indicates that there are 533 family members “at post” for the South and Central Asian Affairs bureau which covers India plus 12 other countries.
NEW: There has been a major coronavirus outbreak among US diplomatic staff in India with 2 locally employed staff dying & more than 100 people testing positive in recent wks as the country struggles to cope with a dramatic surge, w/ @jmhansler @NicoleCNN https://t.co/nztwQUbeZ5
— Kylie Atwood (@kylieatwood) April 26, 2021
US Embassy Spokesperson in response to its Diplomatic Staff getting impacted with #COVID crisis on India: pic.twitter.com/vBm2FuwzB3
— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) April 27, 2021
All U.S. Embassy New Delhi’s in-person 𝐯𝐢𝐬𝐚 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰-𝐰𝐚𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐀𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐥 𝟐𝟔 – 𝐌𝐚𝐲 𝟗 in light of current pandemic conditions.
— U.S. Embassy India (@USAndIndia) April 23, 2021
The consulates in Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata continue to offer limited visa appointments, but may cancel certain appointments as local conditions require.
— U.S. Embassy India (@USAndIndia) April 23, 2021
Considering current COVID-19 conditions, all routine services at @USAndChennai are canceled from April 26 through May 15th, including all routine non-immigrant visa interview appointments, interview waiver appointments, and routine American Citizen Services appointments. (1/2)
— US Consulate Chennai (@USAndChennai) April 26, 2021
India reports 3,23,144 new Covid-19 cases, 2771 deaths and 2,51,827 discharges in the last 24 hours. Active cases stand at 28,82,204.
Track latest news on #COVID19 here: https://t.co/ElyTbhreB1 pic.twitter.com/Ga9ZsNm7UR
— Economic Times (@EconomicTimes) April 27, 2021
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