Expats in UAE are top priority for India evacuation

By Eudore R. Chand

NEW DELHI 8 May 2020: The largest number of evacuation flights for Indians abroad who want to return home because of disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has been allotted to the UAE in the first phase of the process, said Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s Minister for Civil Aviation.

In marathon interviews to mark the start of what he called the “most comprehensive, complicated and challenging evacuation plan” in history, Puri said 10 flights will take off from airports in the UAE in the first phase of repatriation between 7th and 13th May. Every other country and geographic location in the world has fewer flights than this.

The most number of flights from airports worldwide during this phase will be to Kerala. Fifteen such flights in the first week will repatriate 3,150 passengers to this southern state, Puri said.

A total pf 14,800 Indians will return home during this period from all over the world. He said these evacuation flights are a “limited operation” since all scheduled domestic and international flights in India remain suspended until 17th May, said Wam.

The minister said Indian authorities have estimated so far that a total of 190,000 Indians abroad will return home during the entire operation lasting several weeks. “After the first week, we will know if this figure will go up or down. We will review the situation after two or three days,” Puri said.

As Covid-19 cases in India neared 53,000 today, with 35,902 active infections, Indian Railways converted 5,231 of its coaches as “Covid Care Centres” for treating mild Coronavirus infections that can be clinically assigned to such centres and do not need regular hospitalisation.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare here said 15,267 patients have been cured and 1,783 people have died from the disease as of Thursday.

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