A health worker tests a girl at the Dubai International Airport before leaving on a flight back to India on Thursday. WAM
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.
Indian 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.
An 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.
A 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.
India will begin evacuation of its citizens, stranded abroad after the enforcement of COVID-19 lockdown, in a phased manner on Thursday.
Those who wish to travel to Johannesburg, Lagos, and Tunis must contact the respective embassy or consulate for these countries in the UAE. For all other flights, passengers can book directly on emirates website (select the "one-way" option when booking), or via their travel agent.
"It is nice to be back home. Dubai is my home and my children’s home," Mark Hill, a British national, who has been living in the city for two decades, said after landing at Dubai International Airport.
As many as 1,600 community members have been repatriated through seven special flights by the national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) while two more flights are ready to take approximately 400-plus expatriates on Apr.28 to Karachi and Multan.
The Ministry stressed in a statement on Sunday that its aim to continue expanding the scope of testing nationwide to facilitate the early detection of coronavirus cases and carry out the necessary treatment.
Sheikh Mohamed expressed his sympathies and wished the injured a speedy recovery.
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