VIDEO: India gives priority for its citizens in UAE in global evacuation operations: Minister - GulfToday

VIDEO: India gives priority for its citizens in UAE in global evacuation operations: Minister


A health worker tests a girl at the Dubai International Airport before leaving on a flight back to India on Thursday. WAM

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, Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s Minister for Civil Aviation, has said.  

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.

IndianExpatDubaiAirportIndian passengers line up before being checked by health workers at Dubai Airport. WAM

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 of 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 May 17.

IndianBoyDubaiGateAn Indian boy passes through a self-sterilisation gate at Dubai Airport. 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.

IndianExpatDubaiA health worker takes a blood test from an Indian expat at Dubai Airport. WAM

As COVID-19 cases in India neared 53,000 on Friday, 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 said 15,267 patients have been cured and 1,783 people have died from the disease as of Thursday.


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