Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Tuesday that he has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that it was dangerous to repatriate stranded Indians from abroad without testing them for the coronavirus, NDTV reported.
“According to the central government, the people are being brought back without testing whether they have coronavirus or not,” Vijayan told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram. “This is very dangerous. There are 200 people in a flight. If one or two have the virus – this can be very dangerous for the country.” Vijayan added that the Centre was not following protocols followed internationally while bringing back stranded citizens.
The chief minister said that while over 1.68 lakh expatriates from Kerala are part of the central government’s priority list for repatriation, only 2,250 will be brought back in the first phase, Mathrubhumi reported. He added that over 4.42 lakh expats have registered to return to Kerala.
Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said earlier on Tuesday that the government will operate 64 flights during the first week of the massive evacuation plan. Between 7 to 13 May, India will send planes to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Singapore, United States, Philippines, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Malaysia, Kuwait and Oman to bring back nearly 15,000 stranded citizens.
Since the passengers will be paying for their journeys, the government has fixed prices.
Precautions against infections
On Monday, the Centre had announced that it will start bringing back Indians stranded abroad in a phased manner from May 7. The passengers would use aircraft and naval ships and only asymptomatic people would be allowed to travel, the government had said.
The government also prepared a standard operating protocol for the passengers, involving screening for Covid-19 before taking the flight and after reaching the destination. On reaching the destination, the passengers will have to register on the Aarogya Setu app. They will be quarantined for 14 days, either in a hospital or in an institutional quarantine on payment-basis, by the concerned state government. They will be tested for Covid-19 after 14 days.
India has so far recorded 46,711 coronavirus cases and 1,583 deaths.