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COVID-19: Indian Nationals Stranded Abroad Likely to be Brought Back Home

64 special flights will be operated to evacuate 14,800 Indian Nationals in 12 countries

The Union Government on May 5, released a detailed plan to repatriate about 14,800 Indian nationals stranded in 12 countries due to a nationwide lockdown which started on March 25 to curb the spread of coronavirus outbreak in the country. All commercial passenger flights have been suspended till May 17 as the Centre announced the extension of lockdown for two more weeks on May 1. The central government is likely to operate 64 special flights flown by Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express in the first week, between May 7 and May 13. 

Indians stranded in the United States, UAE, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Bangladesh will be airlifted under proper guidelines and quarantine protocols. The government statement said, “only asymptomatic passengers would be allowed to travel and strict adherence to the Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) for the complete process has to be followed by the carriers. State Governments have been advised to make arrangements, including for testing, quarantine and onward movement of the citizens upon their return.”  

Out of the 64 flights, 15 flights will be directed to Kerala followed by 11 flights in Delhi and Tamil Nadu. 7 flights will bring people back to Telangana and Maharashtra, and 6 flights will be flying people to Gujarat. “Maximum number of flights in the first week of repatriation will bring back citizens from the Gulf countries”, the statement said. 

Four Navy ships have also been deployed to bring back stranded Indians from Maldives and UAE as part of the first phase of evacuation. “INS Jalashwa and INS Magar will get back Indians from the Maldives while INS Shardul has been diverted to Dubai to get back the expatriates from the West Asian countries”, the official statement said.