Aircrafts are seen parked on a runway at the Chhatrapati Shivaji domestic airport in Mumbai, India. The world's largest democracy went under the world's biggest lockdown on Wednesday. AP
As many as 249 British tourists stranded in Goa left for Manchester in a special flight early on Wednesday even as arrangements are under way to fly stranded tourists of other nationalities too, a tour operator involved in the exercise said.
Martin Joseph, who runs a charter company Freedom Holidays, arranged to ferry back 249 UK tourists along with TUI Airways, a Britain-based chartered travel company. He said that the central government made special exception for the exit of the stranded tourists.
"The 249 British tourists included those who had come to Goa by scheduled flights. India's charter aviation policy mandates that only those who come by a chartered flight can return by a chartered flight. But in this case, the central government allowed all tourists to fly back," Joseph whose company handles charter tourist operations, told reporters.
After the departure of the flight, the official Twitter handle of Goa's Dabolim International Airport said: "Matter of relief that guests shall be safe home amid COVID-19 crisis. AAI (Airport Authority of India) committed for service. Bon voyage".
Joseph also said that efforts were being made to bail out tourists from other nationalities who are currently stranded in the coastal state. For now, foreigners whose visas are likely to expire have been allowed to extend their visas online and stay put in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tourism in Goa has taken a hit on account of the global coronavirus outbreak. Last year, the state attracted more than seven million tourists, of which half a million were foreigners.
Indo-Asian News Service
Johnson had already postponed the trip once from January, when COVID-19 infections were high in Britain. Infections in India are currently surging as the country endures a second wave of the virus.
The Indian authorities have launched efforts to locate the passengers who flew to India last month from the UK after 20 people tested positive for the new, more virulent strain — up by 14 cases since Tuesday.
The patient arrived in Kerala on March 2 and reached Munnar on March 7. But on March 10 he developed symptoms of coronavirus and was asked to remain under observation at a state owned resort. Since then he was in the observation camp.
India logged 26,964 new COVID cases in the last 24 hours taking the caseload to 3,35,31,498, while the active cases declined to 301,989, the lowest in 186 days, Union Health Ministry's data showed on Wednesday.
The quake's epicentre was near the rural town of Mansfield in the state of Victoria, about 200 km (124 miles) northeast of Melbourne, and was at a depth of 10 km (six miles). An aftershock was rated 4.0.
Secretary-General rang the alarm in his annual state-of-the-world speech at the opening of the UN General Assembly’s high-level meeting for leaders of its 193 member nations.