China has asked hundreds of Indian students stranded back home due to the coronavirus pandemic to remain in touch with their respective colleges and follow instructions to protect their academic progress through online courses as foreign students are still not allowed to enter the country. Over 23,000 Indian students studied different courses in Chinese universities and colleges of which over 21,000 were enrolled to study MBBS, according to last year's data. Most of these students left for India during the Chinese New Year holidays in January, just around the time when the coronavirus pandemic began spreading in China following which international travel has been badly disrupted. "At present, foreign students in China cannot enter the country for the time being, but the Chinese government attaches great importance to the protection of the legitimate rights and interests of foreign students in China," the Chinese Ministry of Education informed the Indian Embassy here. Earlier, the Indian Embassy took up with the Chinese officials the concerns of a large number of Indian students following an official announcement that foreign students and teachers will not return to their colleges until further notice. In its response, the Chinese Education Ministry said, It requires relevant universities in China to maintain close contacts with the students, immediately notify relevant information and try their best to protect students' academic progress through online courses, properly respond to students' reasonable demands and help solve their practical difficulties. In view of the fact that the epidemic situation in the world is still unclear and relevant policies on entry and exit in China are being gradually adjusted, it is suggested that Indian students should maintain close contact with relevant Chinese Colleges and Universities and arrange to study in China in strict accordance with the suggestions and guidance of the Colleges\/Universities, it said, according to a press release issued by the Indian Embassy on Monday. Indian students are accordingly advised to remain in touch with their respective Universities\/Colleges, the Indian Embassy said, adding that they are advised to monitor the website of the Indian Embassy\/Consulates in China and their social media channels to remain updated about the evolving situation in respect of the return of foreign students to China. The coronavirus pandemic that first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan has killed 892,443 people globally and infected about 27,339,132 others, according to the John Hopkins coronavirus resource centre.