Covid-19: Mandatory quarantine for Gulf passengers to India begins today

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Dubai - Passengers said they faced thorough checking at airports in India.


Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Wed 18 Mar 2020, 1:16 PM

Last updated: Wed 18 Mar 2020, 7:21 PM

The mandatory 14-day quarantine of all passengers from UAE, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait in India will begin today at 1200 GMT (4pm UAE time).
In a bid to avoid quarantine, several hundred UAE residents and visitors rushed to catch flights back home on Tuesday, March 17. Passengers said they faced thorough checking at airports in India.
A spokesperson from the Indian Embassy confirmed, "Indian expats flying into India will be tested for coronavirus symptoms and based on the results, the health officials will decide on a case to case basis whether they will be sent to 14-day quarantine at government facilities/hospitals or asked to self-isolate at homes."

Quarantine facilities in Kerala

In Kerala's capital city Thiruvananthapuram, sources said sick passengers from abroad will be placed in Institute of Management in Government Hostel in Barton Hill, Veli Youth Hostel, and two private hospitals vacant buildings in Kunchalumoodu and Kochulloor.  

Meanwhile, a senior official with Kerala government said it is planning to increase quarantine facilities as people in home quarantine are not complying with directions from the government. "Home quarantine people are not strictly complying the direction of government," said the official.

A call to the District Health Office in Ernakulam, Kerala, revealed that as of right now, only people showing symptoms such as fever and a sore throat will be immediately transferred to an isolation ward. All other passengers will have to go into home- quarantine, which is being strictly enforced. "Since the situation is dynamic, it could change as well," said the official.

"Following isolation at airports, sick people will be tested two times in 24 hours. Blood and other necessary tests will be done. If it is negative, they will go back into mandatory home- isolation. If positive for Cobid-19, the patient will be moved to a hospital," added the official.

Binu, a UAE- resident whose parents flew out of Dubai to Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday, March 14 told Khaleej Times, "Thorough checks were held at immigration counters at the airports. They were instructed that they stay indoors, and in case they show any kind of symptoms, they were asked to alert authorities."

As of Wednesday morning, Kerala media reports suggest there are over 18,000 people in observation and 24 positive cases in Kerala so far.

Quarantine facilities in other states

Deepak Mhaisekar, Divisional Commissioner of Pune told Indian media that Maharashtra has a quarantine facility for 770 beds, however, it is unclear if the beds are for travellers from abroad or patients in India. Details about the facilities are still awaited.

Air India to continue India- UAE flights

India's flag carrier Air India (AI) will continue operating flights to India from the UAE, however, the frequency of flights has been reduced until April 30, an Air India official told Khaleej Times. Starting March 17 - 21, AI will have three flights a week to Kochi - Dubai and back, and four flights a week to Chennai and back.

Two flights will operate on the Goa, Bangalore sector, and another four flights Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode. There will be daily flights to Mumbai and Delhi starting March 17. However, AI has asked passengers to check country- wise travel restrictions that have been introduced due to Covid-19.

"Passengers are requested to ensure that their contact details are updated and to present the self-declaration form at the health and immigration counters in Indian airports," said the official.
With inputs from Juidin Bernarrd and Anjana Shankar

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