In a major relief for Indians stranded abroad, the Centre on Monday, has announced that their travel will be arranged via aircraft and naval ships in a phased manner. It added that the Indian High Commissions and embassies are preparing a list of distressed Indian citizens. However, it clarified that this facility is available on payment-basis and will begin in a phased manner on May 7.
The Centre added that only asymptomatic people will be allowed to travel after medical scrutiny. It also mandated the installation of Aarogya Setu app and 14-day institutional quarantine on payment basis. The Ministry of External Affairs and the Civil aviation ministry will soon share details while state governments have been advised to make arrangements for testing, quarantine and their journey onwards.
While the Ministry of External affairs has set up a cell to facilitate return of Indians stuck abroad, the apex court in April maintained that Indian citizens stranded in various countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic should "stay where they are". This was in respose to the Centre saying it would not be feasible to "selectively evacuate" those who want to return due to various reasons. The MEA has assured that it is in co-ordination with respective governments and has constituted a 4-member special cell with Additional Secretary Dammu Ravi to coordinate the response to COVID-19.
At the start of the pandemic, India had facilitated the return of students stuck in the then-epicenter for COVID - Wuhan in China along with students from other neighbouring nations too. Apart from Wuhan, India has also flown back stranded fishermen from Iran, set up a treatment facility in Iran for treating those tested positive there. India has also allowed people from US, Germany, UK, Japan etc to fly back home as India's COVID-19 tally increased.