As a part of the 'Vande Bharat' Mission, the first evacuation flight from Bahrain carrying 177 passengers landed in Cochin at 11:30 pm on Friday. According to reports, the flight carried passengers each from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, while the rest of the passengers are from various districts in Kerala.
Upon arrival, the passengers immediately went through the thermal scanner and a health help desk where they were informed about the quarantine period. All the symptomatic people were taken to a nearby state-run hospital, while the passengers from other districts were sent to their home districts where they have to be in a 14-day quarantine period at the state-run Coronavirus centres. Meanwhile, pregnant women, children and elderly people have been asked to home quarantine themselves.
In a major relief for Indians stranded abroad, the Centre had announced that their travel will be arranged via aircraft and naval ships in a phased manner. The Ministry of Home Affairs also issued the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the movement of the returnees. The mission will go on for 7 days and will rescue stranded Indians from over 11 countries in 64 Air India flights carrying over 14,800 people. The flights will take off for 12 countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Maldives, Singapore and the US.
Taking to Twitter, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that the Vande Bharat Mission is picking up pace. On Friday, except for Bahrain, flights from Singapore, Dhaka, and Riyadh also returned to India.
Mission Vande Bharat is picking pace.— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) May 8, 2020
182 Indians from Bahrain, 234 from Singapore, 168 from Dhaka & 152 from Riyadh return back on various flights today.
Great effort by @airindiain, our missions abroad & @MEAIndia. pic.twitter.com/EjSQVZxIta
According to the SOP, those wishing to return to India must register themselves with the Indian Missions in the country where they are stranded, along with necessary details as prescribed by the Ministry of External Affairs. They will have to travel to India by non-scheduled commercial flights that'll be arranged by the Civil Aviation Ministry (MoCA) and naval ships to be arranged by the Department of Military Affairs (DMA). Only those crew/staff, who have tested negative for COVID-19, will be allowed to operate the flight/ship.
As per the MHA, priority will be given to compelling cases in distress including migrant workers/labourers who have been laid off, short term visa holders faced with the expiry of visa, persons with medical emergencies/ pregnant women/ elderly, those required to return to India due to death of family member and students. The cost of travel, as specified by the MoCA and DMA will be borne by such travellers.