A total of 335 people were flown in from Saudi and Bahrain while 698 people were brought from Maldives via INS Jaiswal.

Persons in PPE suits sitting in chairs on the ship Picture courtesy: PTI
news Coronavirus Saturday, May 09, 2020 - 09:00

Two flights carrying a total of 335 people from the Gulf countries landed in Kerala's two airports on Friday night, as India's Vande Bharat Mission to bring home its nationals stranded due to COVID-19 lockdown in various countries entered its second day.

While an Air India repatriation flight from Riyadh carrying 153 passengers, including 84 pregnant women, 22 children and four infants landed at the Kozhikode airport 8 pm on Friday night, another Air India Express flight from Bahrain with 177 passengers, including 5 infants, reached Kochi airport at 11.32 pm.

Two earlier flights had landed at Kochi and Kozhikode on Thursday from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, respectively.

According to Kozhikode airport sources, the flight from Riyadh carried five people having some health issues and they would be shifted to Manjeri and Kozhikode medical college hospitals.

Ten passengers from neighbouring states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu also travelled in the flight from Riyadh, the sources said.

The passengers were subjected to thermal tests at the aerobridge, before allowing them to undergo customs and immigration checks and would be subjected to COVID-19 rapid test at the airport. They will then be transferred to their respective destinations by special taxis and KSRTC buses.

As per the norms, all the pregnant women and children would be transported to their homes and others would be shifted to coronavirus care centres in their home districts.

Meanwhile, an Indian Navy Ship Jalashwa has set sail from Male to Kochi in Kerala with 698 Indians nationals who were stranded in Maldives amid the coronavirus-triggered lockdown, senior Navy officials said.

This repatriation is part of the Vande Bharat Mission that began on Thursday to bring stranded Indians home from various countries like the UK, the UAE, the US, Maldives, Bahrain and Singapore.

"Total 595 males and 103 females have boarded INS Jalashwa. 19 women are pregnant. The ship has departed from Male," the Navy officials added.

When the ship arrived at the port of Male, the Defence Attache visited it to discuss and coordinate procedures for embarkation, they said.

"Baggage disinfection stations, medical screening and reception desks at the jetty were set up to ensure safe embarkation while following social distancing norms," the officials said.

Priority was accorded to pregnant women and children to embark the ship first and bunk allocation was also undertaken by the ship's crew catering to age and medical requirements, they added.

Air India will operate 64 repatriation flights between May 7 and May 14 while the Navy has deployed two ships as India rolled out a massive evacuation operation on Tuesday to bring back thousands of its nationals stranded abroad due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown.

From the Gulf countries to Malaysia and the UK to the US, the multi-agency operation christened Vande Bharat Mission will see the state-owned airline operate non-scheduled commercial flights till May 14 to ferry home 5,000 Indian nationals from 12 countries.

Inside this mission, the Navy had launched Operation Samudra Setu (Sea Bridge) under which it dispatched two ships to Male to commence the first phase of the evacuation operations from May 8.