VIDEO: India begins repatriation with 2 flights from UAE - GulfToday

VIDEO: India begins repatriation with 2 flights from UAE


Indian nationals gather at the Dubai International Airport before leaving on a flight back to their country. AFP

The first wave of a massive exercise to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Indians stuck abroad began Thursday, with two flights departing from the United Arab Emirates.

The consulate in Dubai said that it alone had received almost 200,000 applications, appealing on Twitter for “patience and cooperation” as India undertakes the “massive task” of repatriation.

Indian citizens with coveted tickets, arriving at Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports, were greeted by medics in masks, gloves and plastic aprons who took blood samples for antibody tests.

“We have one or two flights planned every day now for the next five or six days,” Consul General Vipul told reports at Dubai airport.

He said most of those aboard were workers who had lost their jobs, together with pregnant women, the elderly and some stranded tourists.

“Some people will be left out, it’s inevitable in this kind of situation...not everyone can be accommodated immediately,” he said.

The two flights from the UAE - both destined for the southern Indian state of Kerala - will transport just 354 people.

A flight planned for Thursday from Qatar has been postponed until the weekend.

According to Indian media reports, delays have been triggered by the need to test air crew for coronavirus.

A naval vessel is expected to arrive at Dubai’s Port Rashid. The Indian High Commission in the Maldives posted images on Twitter of one of its warships entering Male harbour ahead of Friday’s planned evacuation of some 1,000 people.

Other flights will leave Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, as well as London in the United Kingdom and San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Washington in the US.

The UAE Health Ministry on Thursday said that it has conducted more than 33,000 Covid-19 tests in various regions of the country, and announced the registration of 502 new coronavirus cases. The total number of infections jumped to 16,240.

The Ministry announced the death of 8 people of different nationalities who were infected with the virus, and as a result of complications associated with other diseases. This brings the number of deaths in the country to 165.

The Ministry also announced that 213 more people have fully recovered after receiving the treatment bringing the total cases of recovery in the country to 3,572 cases.

The United Nations on Thursday issued a new appeal for $4.7 billion in funding to “protect millions of lives and stem the spread of coronavirus in fragile countries.”

The money is on top of the $2 billion the UN already called for when it laUNched its global humanitarian response plan on March 25. It has received about half of that money so far.

China accused the United States on Thursday of trying to shift blame over the coronavirus, after President Donald Trump said the pandemic was a worse “attack” than Pearl Harbor or 9/11.

Tension between the world’s two biggest economies has reached fever pitch in recent days as they have exchanged barbed comments on each other’s handling of the virus.

“We urge the US side to stop shifting the blame to china and turn to facts,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying at a press briefing.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said Thursday that lockdown measures in the Russian capital would be extended until May 31 after the country reported a record increase in coronavirus infections.

Russia on Thursday reported another record increase in coronavirus infections with more than 11,000 new cases.

A daily government tally in the country saw 11,231 new infections, bringing Russia’s total to 177,160.

Parisians must show forms to use rush-hour public transport and still avoid parks, though they will be able to shop at Champs-Elysee boutiques again, under measures to start lifting France’s coronavirus lockdown from Monday.

Though France is one of the worst-affected nations with 25,809 deaths, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told a news conference that enough progress had been made in curbing COVID-19 and supporting hospitals to begin easing restrictions.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said that coronavirus lockdown will be lifted on Saturday, despite the fact that the number of cases in the country is still accelerating.

The decision is being taken because the country’s large number of poor people and labourers cannot not afford to live under lockdown any more, he said on Thursday.


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