‘Can’t take risks’: Kerala CM on flying back Indians without Covid-19 test
Beginning Thursday, around 15,000 stranded Indians are expected to be flown back to India in 64 flights in a mammoth exercise to evacuate stranded Indians from abroad.Updated: May 05, 2020 21:06 IST
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said the Centre’s plan to bring back Indians stranded abroad without testing them for coronavirus was fraught with risks.
Beginning Thursday, around 15,000 stranded Indians are expected to be flown back to India in 64 flights in a mammoth exercise to evacuate stranded Indians from abroad.
“Many of them are coming without tests there. So we can’t take any risk at this point. It would have been ideal if they undergo tests before taking flights,” said the Kerala CM in a letter to PM Modi.
In each flight at least 200 passengers are likely to come and in case there are one or two infected people among them, there are chances of other passengers getting infected, Vijayan said.
Earlier the state was planning to send the returnees to their homes after screening with a strict instruction to remain in quarantine for two weeks. The state changed its plan after it came to know that most of them won’t undergo tests before boarding the flight.
The state had insisted to bring back only who have certified that they are Covid-free, but the Centre said that it will be difficult in the present scenario to get them tested.
At the time of boarding the plane or ship, the passengers will be put through thermal screening as per health protocol. Also, only asymptomatic travellers would be allowed to make the journey.
The CM underlined that there should not be any lapse in following internationally accepted health protocols or else it will be a blow to the state’s efforts to prevent community spread of Covid-19.
During the journey, the passengers are expected to wear masks, maintain environmental, respiratory and hand hygiene.
Upon arrival the passengers will mandatorily be kept under institutional quarantine for a minimum period of 14 days, the cost of which will be borne by them.
More than four lakh people have registered with the state government to facilitate their return to the country. The CM pointed out that the Centre has made it clear that such a massive evacuation was not possible at this juncture and people who are on priority list will be evacuated.
The government has said priority will be given to those migrant labourers/workers abroad who have been laid off, short term visa holders faced with expiry of visa, pregnant women, elderly, faced with medical emergency or wants to return to India due to death in family.