Covid-19: First batches of West Asia evacuees land in Kerala

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram/Kochi | Updated on May 08, 2020 Published on May 08, 2020

An Air India Express special flight (IX-344) carrying 182 passengers from Dubai reached the Karipur airport in Kozhikode on Thursday.

Flights land in Kochi, Kozhikode airports last night

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) deployed its buses, and several cabs were pressed into service to move the 363 passengers from the West Asia who arrived at Kochi and Kozhikode as part of the Vande Bharat Mission on Thursday night.

The mission to lift stranded Non-Resident Keralites in the wake of the global lockdown following the Covid-19 pandemic saw the first two flights land at the Cochin International Airport and the Kozhikode International Airport at Karipur.

According to reports, five passengers arrived in Kochi, and three in Kozhikode have been hospitalised with Covid-19 symptoms.

First flight in Kochi

The first flight carrying 177 adult passengers and four children from Abu Dhabi landed at the Cochin International Airport (CIAL) at 10.08 pm. The Air India Express flight was initially scheduled to land at 9.40 pm. The passengers included 48 pregnant women.

Passengers had been issued affidavits on board to be submitted on arrival. The flight was received at a specially prepared bay, and passengers used the specially designated aerobridge. They also underwent an initial temperature test using a thermal gun as they disembarked. After this, they underwent a thermal screening.

Quarantine rules

The state government has stated that all incoming passengers who have not undergone testing at the point of departure, will be put in institutional quarantine for 14 days by the district administration. Those who have tested and found Covid-19 negative will be put in IQ for seven days.

If they do not develop symptoms after seven days, they would be put in home quarantine for the next seven days, the order issued by Chief Secretary Tom Jose said. The Centre had insisted that all passengers coming to India should undergo 14 days of institutional quarantine.

Baggage disinfected

At Kochi, five immigration counters manned by ten officials processed papers of the incoming passengers and completed other formalities, including medical screening, that took more than hour to complete. At least 60 passengers rode three of the KSRTC buses to quarantine centres in Thrissur and Guruvayur.

The baggage area and the baggage were disinfected using ultraviolet light. Pregnant women were given a choice either to use taxis arranged by the airport authorities or to use their own transport to proceed, a communication from the CIAL said.

Crew proud over the mission

Sources said that none other than assigned officials or staff, not even reporters, was allowed access anywhere near the arrival area. The pilot, co-pilot and crew of the Air India Express flight expressed pride at being chosen for the mission.

Captain Anshul Shiromg, co-pilot Rizwin Nazer and crew Deepak, Riyanka, Anjana and Tashi Bhutia had received training on infection containment at the Government Medical College Hospitals, Ernakulam, on Wednesday, ahead of embarking on the mission. They said they felt energised by the support extended by their families for undertaking the task and were at no time bothered about the intricacies involved.

Second flight in Kozhikode

Meanwhile at the Karipur airport in Kozhikode, The special flight carrying 182 expatriates, including five children, from Dubai reached Karipur at 10.35 pm. Passengers were subjected to thermal scanning soon after they emerged out of the flight and entered the aerobridge. The District Medical Officer and team counselled them about the importance of self-isolation and social distancing.

Those who showed disease symptoms were shifted to Government Medical College Hospitals at Kozhikode and Manjeri. Those who needed urgent medical care, pregnant women, children below ten years of age, senior citizens above 75 years, and those with negative results were allowed to go home. However, they will have to remain in self-quarantine for two weeks. All others from the Kozhikode district were sent to an assigned Covid-19 care centre. Passengers from Kozhikode, Wayanad, Palakkad, Kannur, and Kasaragod were sent to Covid care centres in their respective districts.

Published on May 08, 2020

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