Indian stranded abroad will pay for their own flights says Hardeep Puri
New Delhi, May 05: Indians stranded abroad due to the coronavirus outbreak will be charged for the flights, Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Puri said.
He also said that all asymptomatic Indians will be asked to self quarantine for 14 days after they and in India. The states would be responsible for the quarantine facilities. He also said that in the first week Air India will be conducting all the flights. In the days to come private airlines will be considered.
"It is a commercial service being carried out under special circumstances. The exchequer does not have the space to pay for repatriation," Puri also said.
In a statement, the Home Ministry said only asymptomatic people would be allowed to travel and it would be arranged by aircraft and naval ships, and the facility will be available on a payment basis.
After their arrival in India, medical examination will be conducted on everyone and they will be subsequently put under quarantine for 14 days, either in a hospital or in an institutional facility, the ministry said.
"The government of India will be facilitating the return of Indian nationals stranded abroad on compelling grounds in a phased manner. The travel would begin from May 7," it said.
The government has prepared the standard operating protocol (SOP), and the Indian embassies and high commissions are preparing a list of distressed citizens, according to the ministry.
"This facility would be made available on payment-basis. Non-scheduled commercial flights would be arranged for air travel," it said.
Medical screening of passengers will be done before taking the flight and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to travel. During the journey, they will have to follow the protocols, such as the health protocols issued by the Health Ministry and the Civil Aviation Ministry, it said.
"On reaching the destination, everyone would have to register on the Arogya Setu app," the Home Ministry said.
"Everyone would be medically screened. After scrutiny, they would be quarantined for 14 days, either in a hospital or in an institutional quarantine on payment-basis, by the concerned state government," it said.
COVID-19 tests will be done after 14 days and further action would be taken according to health protocols, the statement said.
The Ministries of External Affairs and Civil Aviation will soon share detailed information about it through their websites, it said.
"The state governments are being advised to make arrangements, including for testing, quarantine and onward movement of the returning Indians in their respective states," the ministry said.
India banned arrival of international flights beginning March 23. The 21-day lockdown was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 in a bid to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic. It was first extended till May 3 and then again till May 17.