The first of two flights from the United Arab Emirates, with 177 Indian citizens, left for Kerala on Thursday, as India made the largest ever repatriation effort to bring back its citizens who were abroad in the midst of the blockade of international traffic caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
A total of 354 Indian nationals, including 11 pregnant women and a few twins, will return home on Thursday on two UAE flights to Kerala as part of the repatriation exercise known as the Wanda Bharat Mission. Flight IX452 from Abu Dhabi to Kochi was operated by Air India Express, followed by flight Dubai-Kozhikode from the same carrier.
# The VandeBharat mission begins #
The first flight with 177 passengers will leave Abu Dhabi for Kochi#TeamIndia will continue its tireless efforts to bring Indians home @PMOIndia @PIBHomeAffairs @MoCA_GoI @MoHFW_INDIA @IndembAbuDhabi pic.twitter.com/9wemQEhY23.
– 6. Anurag Srivastava (@MEAIndia) 7. Anurag Srivastava (@MEAIndia) May 2020.
The passengers began arriving at Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports on Thursday at 9.30am. Some passengers wore Indian flags.
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Indian Ambassador Pawan Kapoor was questioned about the procedure to be followed for certain passengers undergoing a medical examination at Abu Dhabi airport.
We thank all passengers for patiently waiting their turn to undergo a medical examination, and express our deep gratitude to all frontline medical personnel and airport staff for their full support, tweeted the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi. There were no suspicious cases of COVID-19 among the first passengers to be repatriated on Thursday.
They all passed the tests, said Vipul, India’s consul general to Dubai Gulf News.
As selection criteria for passengers he mentioned medical cases, job losses, pregnant women and elderly people. People with complications and financial problems have also been chosen.
On Monday, the Indian government announced its intention to introduce a new system for the treatment of cancer from the age of 7. Be able to start the gradual repatriation of their nationals abroad. The government also indicated that Air India was in service between the 7th and 13th of the month. May will make 64 flights to bring back about 15,000 Indian citizens who were abroad under the blockade imposed by COWID-19.
The first passenger shortlist from a database of more than 200,000 candidates, including some 6,500 pregnant women, has become a mammoth task that poses a number of challenges for the missions, Neeraj Agrawal, consul, press, information and cultural representative to the Indian Consulate in Dubai, Gulf News said.
India is conducting its largest repatriation exercise to date, the Wanda-Bharat – Socially Inclusive Mission and the KOWID-19 tests for the return of stranded Indians from abroad.
Flight Abu Dhabi – Kochi with bicycle on departure
The Indian missions in the United Arab Emirates have drawn up a list of passengers selected for compelling reasons specified in the registration of their names.
Only passengers with confirmed tickets have to go to the airport. They have to be at the airport five hours before departure, Agraval said.
The Indian Consulate called on passengers not to crowd the airport, to maintain a social distance and to take all necessary precautions required by the authorities. The crew of Air India on board the repatriation flights will be fully protected by protective equipment, including personal protective equipment, to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection, reported the Halidge Times.
According to the information on the website of the Indian Embassy, the Indian expatriate community is the largest ethnic community in the UAE, with about 3.42 million people or about 30% of the population.
India has imposed a national blockade to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the country, all international flights have been cancelled since mid-March. Under the repatriation plan, the Government will gradually facilitate the return of Indian nationals who are abroad for compelling reasons.