The photo used for illustrative purpose.
India has brought back 67.5 million of its citizens from around the world since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, the Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri said on Sunday.
The number of Indians, whose stay abroad has been disrupted by coronavirus continues to grow making its global repatriation mission known as "Vande Bharat" the biggest such exercise in the history of the world.
"It is not just a mission that brought back stranded and distressed citizens from around the world, but Vande Bharat has been a mission of hope and happiness, of letting people know that they will not be left behind even in the most testing times," Puri said.
India commenced its evacuation operations from May 7, last year as regular, scheduled international commercial passenger flights to and from India remained suspended due to a complete lockdown to contain the pandemic.
Initially, Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express played a key role in the operations. Afterwards, other air carriers were allowed to take part in the programme. Besides, aerial evacuation, even naval ships were used to bring back Indian citizens.
Kuwait has suspended all flights from India until further notice, Bahrain has updated International arrival procedures for passengers from India. Germany is sharply restricting travel from India and Iran has banned all flights to and from India and Pakistan.
A government body dealing with the pandemic said the monthlong travel restrictions would start from Saturday and aim to prevent the spread into the country of coronavirus strains from other countries which are believed to be more contagious.
The latest phase of these repatriation flights, known as the "Vande Bharat Mission," began on March 1 and will last till March 28. Slightly more than 1,350 international flights are scheduled to be operated from 28 countries in this phase, enabling an estimated 260,000 Indians to travel home.
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