India has planned a massive operation involving naval ships and aircraft to evacuate hundreds of thousands of Indians stranded abroad because of the coronavirus crisis.

Over 14,800 Indians in 13 countries will be brought back by 64 flights in the first week, says the foreign ministry. Three ships of the Indian Navy will sail out for Indian nationals in West Asia and the Maldives. The Indians were stranded because of airspace closures.

India banned all incoming international flights in late March as it imposed one of the world’s strictest virus lockdowns, leaving vast numbers of workers and students stranded.

Here is how the government plans to bring back the stranded citizens across the world:

  • The Ministry of External Affairs has prepared a chart for the evacuation of the 14,800 Indians in week 1 of the operation.
  • Flights from India will fly to the Philippines, Singapore, Bangladesh, UAE, UK, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, USA, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait, Maldives.
  • The Indian embassy and its consulates in other countries, like the UAE and US have prepared a list of Indians planning to travel back home. The list is being prepared through an online registration form.
  • Three Navy warships have also sailed out to the Maldives and the United Arab Emirates. A total of 14 warships have been readied for evacuating Indian citizens from the Gulf and other countries.
  • Indians being brought back to India will need to pay the airfares and bear the cost of quarantine at designated places for 14 days on return.
  • Priority is being given to the most vulnerable categories such as pregnant women and very elderly people, people facing medical emergencies, people who have bereavements or terminally/seriously illnesses in their most immediate families in India, stranded tourists etc.
  • The first day of evacuation will see 10 flights bring back 2300 Indians.
  • On Day 2, around 2050 Indians will arrive in Chennai, Kochi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Delhi from nine different countries.
  • On Day 3, some 2050 stranded nationals are expected to arrive in Mumbai, Kochi, Lucknow and Delhi from 13 countries spread across the Middle East, Europe, South East Asia and the USA.
  • On Day 4 of the plan, the aviation ministry will evacuate 1850 stranded nationals from eight different countries, including the USA, UK and the UAE.
  • Prior to boarding the evacuation flights, all persons coming to India are required to fill-up a form and submit a copy each to the health and immigration counter at arrival. The passengers are required to state whether they are suffering from fever, cough, diabetes or any respiratory disease.
  • The government’s official guidelines say all passengers will be screened before they are allowed to board flights for their return, and only asymptomatic passengers would be allowed to travel.
  • During the journey, they will have to follow the protocols such as those issued by the health ministry and the civil aviation ministry.
  • Upon their arrival in India, everyone would be medically screened. After scrutiny, they would be quarantined for 14 days, either in a hospital or in an institutional quarantine on payment-basis, by the concerned state governments.
  • On reaching India, all the passengers would have to register on the Aarogya Setu app.
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