Thiruvananthapuram: The first batch of 354 non-resident Indians, mostly Keralites, who were stranded in Gulf countries following Covid-19 pandemic landed in the state from Abu Dhabi and Dubai on Thursday night.
Elaborate arrangements were made at Kochi and Kozhikode international airports to receive the expatriates. Buses of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSCTC) were deployed at the Kochi airport to take the passengers to their destination. Taxis and private vehicles have been arranged to take pregnant women, elderly persons, people with ailment and children to their homes where they will remain under home quarantine for 14 days.
The first Air India Express flight from Abu Dhabi carrying 177 persons including 48 pregnant women and four infants, landed in Kochi international airport at 10.08 pm.
The second flight from Dubai with 177 passengers including 19 pregnant women and five infants, landed at the Kozhikode International Airport at 10.34 pm.
The health officials will monitor temperature including wrist temperature of the expatriates through thermal temperature tracking system even while maintaining social distance norms. In case of abnormal temperature there will be warning and alarm alert.
Adequate precautionary measures were taken by the staff at the airports who are equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE).
Besides, 50 ambulances were kept ready for taking people with suspected Covid – 19 symptoms to Covid Care Centres in Kochi and hospitals from the thermal gate of the airport. In the event of people with symptoms at Kozhikode, they will be sent to Kozhikode and Manjeri medical colleges. KSRTC buses, taxis and private carries have been lined up at the airport to take the expatriates to quarantine centres and home.
All passengers in the two flights were subjected to thermal scanning and antibody tests by the UAE health authorities with the assistance of Embassy officials. With none detected with Covid – 19 symptoms, the UAE health authorities gave the green signal to all passengers to travel. All passengers and the crew members were also directed to comply with the Covid – 19 safety protocol.
“By God's grace we have landed happily at the Kochi airport. Primary tests were conducted at the Abu Dhabi airport. Blood samples were taken and results were out within minutes. Later we were declared fit for travelling," Vineeth, one of the passengers who came by the flight, told a regional TV channel.
The passengers underwent Covid – 19 tests including a thermal screening at the airport before coming out in batches from the terminal. Elderly people, people with non -Covid illnesses, pregnant women and children will be taken home where they will remain under quarantine for 14 days.
The remaining people will be sent to Government quarantine facility in their respective districts where they will remain for seven days and on the seventh day subjected to RC PCR test and antibody test. In case of positive result the person will be sent to Covid care centres while the negative cases will be permitted to undergo the remaining seven days quarantine at home.
In the first five days around 2000 people from various Gulf countries will arrive at the four international airports; Kannur, Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram. Thirteen fights will operate between Gulf and Kerala sector during this period. Over 5 lakh non-resident Keralites have registered with the Non-Resident Keralites Affairs Department (NORKA ) for returning home.
With the return of non-resident Keralites and people from other states, the government machinery and health care sector is set to come under huge pressure to sustain the positive trend.
At the moment the state has only 25 active cases and 16,693 persons under surveillance. The government has taken all precautionary measures to prevent any spike in Covid - 19 cases following the return of the expatriates to Kerala.
The government has informed the Kerala High Court that 1,0500 beds have already been arranged for quarantine and more facilities will be put in place in the coming days. "As of now only government quarantine facilities will be provided. Private quarantine facilities will be decided later," said health minister K K Shailaja.
Government stops issuing passes to Keralites coming from outside the state
With Keralites returning from other states in large numbers during the past three days, the state administration has come under tremendous pressure to make arrangements for quarantine. The government has stopped issuing fresh entry passes to people coming from other states in view of the rush.
Chief secretary Tom Jose said next lot of passes would be issued once quarantine arrangements for the existing persons are completed. Till Wednesday 6000 plus persons arrived in Kerala from other states.
So far 38,862 passes have been issued by the government. People coming from Red Zones have to undergo 14 days mandatory quarantine and on the seventh day if their PCR test is found negative they would be sent for home quarantine for the remaining week....