Indians stranded abroad to be brought back in phased manner
The central government on Monday said it will start bringing back Indians stranded abroad in a phased manner from May 7. The travel would be arranged by aircraft and naval ships and Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) for the same are being issued. Indian Embassies and High Commissions are now drafting a list of distressed Indian citizens stuck in foreign countries amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A statement from the Home Ministry said that the repatriation of Indians stranded abroad will start from May 7. The facility would be made available on payment-basis, the statement said. The Ministries of External Affairs and Civil Aviation would also share detailed information about the repatriation exercise through their websites. State governments have been advised to make preparations for the same.
The passengers would be screened before they are evacuated and only asymptomatic persons would be allowed to return to India. The passengers are expected to follow all health protocols during their journey, as issued by the Indian government. Upon reaching India, they would undergo screening and will have to register themselves on the Aarogya Setu app.
The passengers will then be quarantined for 14 days by the state government, either at a hospital or at an institutional quarantine facility on payment-basis. After 14 days, they will be tested for COVID-19.
Government officials told Hindustan Times that 19 lakh people would be covered in the first phase of what is expected to be the "largest repatriation exercise." Indians will first be evacuated from Gulf countries, where 70% of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) live. Reportedly, Indians stuck in the United Arab Emirates will be evacuated initially followed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Earlier, the publication had reported that blue-collar workers will be given first priority in the evacuation exercise, as per Prime Minister Narendra Modi's plan. The next priority will be given to students, followed by persons traveling for work or pleasure.