The Indian government is operating special flights to bring back stranded Indians from foreign countries.
India has managed to bring back 6037 stranded citizens from 12 foreign countries in the last five days under Vande Bharat Mission—considered one of the largest expatriation exercise run by any country, during coronavirus pandemic outbreak. Data released by the ministry of aviation on Tuesday says 31 out of a total of 64 flights to be operated under the mission have been completed so far.
These flights are being operated by Air India and Air India Express since 7th May 2020. Air India is operating the bulk of the flights (42) and the remaining—24—are being operated by AI Express. The government of India is targeting to repatriate 14,800 Indians in the first phase of the operation from countries including USA, UK Bangladesh, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Philippines, UAE and Malaysia.
The government says it has taken care of health and hygiene factors in organizing these flights and only asymptomatic passengers are allowed to board flights, which take care of social distancing norms. The government says the air evacuation exercise is leaving no stone unturned to safeguard the health of passengers, the crew and ground handling staff and prevent further spread of the infection.
The authorities had stopped two passengers from boarding an Air India flight from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to Hyderabad on Monday since their rapid antibody tests for Covid-19 came out to be positive.
The passengers on these special repatriation flights run by the national career have to pay their own fares and register with Indian high commissions or embassies or on specified government websites before they are picked up for the return journey home.
All the returnees have to go through mandatory screening and even testing at some locations before they are cleared for the flights. They also have to go through mandatory quarantine at their own cost in facilities designated by the government upon their return.
The mission involves close coordination between the ministry of civil aviation, ministry of external affairs and state governments and involves extensive and meticulous safety arrangements in accordance with government guidelines.