Indian nationals evacuated from abroad on special flights and naval ships will have to undergo RT-PCR tests upon their return, the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) released by the Union Home Ministry said on Tuesday. Only asymptomatic travellers, detected through thermal screening, will be allowed to board flights and ships, the guidelines say.
If those tested upon return are found exhibiting any of the coronavirus symptoms, they will be ordered a government-supervised quarantine of 14 days, say the MHA rules. The asymptomatic nationals will be allowed to undergo a self-supervised home quarantine of 14 days.
The MHA SOP was released just two days before India kicks off one of its largest evacuation exercises, 'Vande Bharat Mission'. As part of the exercise between May 7 and 13, the government will bring back some 14,500 Indian nationals who have found themselves stranded overseas due to the lockdown restrictions in place since March 24. At least sixty-four flights will be operating during these six days to 12 different countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, USA and the United Kingdom among others, as part of the effort.
Non-scheduled commercial flights, under the aegis of the Ministry of Civil Aviation as well as naval ships, under the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), will be deployed to bring back the stranded Indians.
The MHA has clearly specified in the guidelines that the cost of travel will be borne by the travellers, with priority accorded to those who have been
"Passengers found to be symptomatic shall be immediately taken to a medical facility. The remaining passengers shall be taken to suitable institutional quarantine facilities to be arranged by respective states. These passengers shall be kept under institutional quarantine for 14 days," read the MHA guidelines.
"If they test negative after 14 days, they will be allowed to go home and will undertake self-monitoring of their health for 14 more days as per protocol. The remaining persons will be shifted to a medical facility by states/UTs Governments," said the MHA order.