Kerala braces for huge influx of expatriates amid Covid-19 pandemic

In three days, more than three lakh people who are waiting to return home from foreign countries have registered themselves in a Kerala government portal.
Doctors involved in Covid care participate in a real time mock drill in Kochi .(ANI)
Doctors involved in Covid care participate in a real time mock drill in Kochi .(ANI)
Published on Apr 29, 2020 09:17 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram | ByHT Correspondent

Kerala is bracing itself for a huge influx of workers from Persian Gulf countries as the Centre prepares to evacuate Indians stranded abroad.

More than three lakh have registered in an online portal which the Kerala government launched on Sunday to facilitate the return of Malayalees stranded in other countries particularly in the Persian Gulf.

“Their numbers have reached 3,20,463. These include 9,515 pregnant women, 10,007 senior citizens, 16,276 students, 56,114 who lost their jobs, 57, 436 relatives and 1. 25 lakh others,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Wednesday.

He said the state has made all arrangements for them and is waiting for the Union government to send aircraft to evacuate them. There are also reports that three Navy warships are ready in Kochi for the mass evacuation.

But the number of people waiting for evacuation is a new worry for Kerala which is fighting hard to tide over the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kerala had initially expected two lakh people from Persian Gulf countries but the latest numbers show that the figure could double in the coming days. Since most of those waiting to return are blue collar workers the state has requested the Centre to foot their airfare but is yet to get a reply.

Stranded Indians have been mounting pressure on the government to be allowed back into the country.

There are at least 18 lakh Malayalees working in Persian Gulf countries and in 2018-19 their remittances were 88,000 crore, the highest foreign remittance in the country.

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