India to bring stranded citizens home from May 7

The U.S. also assessing demand for repatriation flights from India.

With India extending the world’s biggest lockdown by another two weeks, it plans to bring back Indians stranded abroad by special aircraft and naval ships in a massive exercise starting May 7.

Indian Embassies and High Commissions are preparing a list of distressed Indian citizens and the facility would be made available on payment basis, Indian Ministry of Home Affairs announced Monday.

A standard operating procedure (SOP) has been prepared to facilitate the return of stranded Indians on compelling grounds in a phased manner from May 7 on payment basis, it said.

“Non-scheduled commercial flights would be arranged for air travel and the travel would begin in a phased manner from May 7,” a ministry statement said.

“Medical screening of the passengers would be done before they board the flight and only the asymptomatic passengers would be allowed to travel,” it said.

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During the journey, all these passengers would have to follow the protocols, such as the health guidelines issued by the Health Ministry and the Civil Aviation Ministry.

“On reaching the destination, everyone would have to register on the Aarogya Setu app. Everyone would be medically screened,” the statement added.

After scrutiny, the passengers would be quarantined for 14 days, either in a hospital or in an institution on payment basis by the concerned state government.

The Home Ministry clarified that Covid-19 test would be done after 14 days and further action would be taken according to health protocols.

The detailed information will soon be available on the websites of the Ministries of External Affairs and Civil Aviation.

“The state governments are being advised to make arrangements, including for testing, quarantine and onward movement of the returning Indians to their respective states,” the Home Ministry said.

India banned all international flights beginning March 23. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockout March 24 to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic. It was first extended till May 3 and then again till May 17.

Meanwhile, the US embassy and consulates in India which have repatriated more than 5,100 American citizens from across India to the US have  currently paused repatriation flights.

This has been done “in order to assess ongoing demand and determine what degree of assistance may be needed as the authorities lift lock-down restrictions,” the US embassy said Monday.

The embassy said it will notify all those who have registered requesting a seat on a flight as flights resume, but cautioned that “there is no certainty that flights will continue at the same pace and regularity as over the last month.”

“Those who wish to depart should consider seriously the next invitation for a flight, as flights will not continue indefinitely,” the embassy said.

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