Covid-19: Pinarayi wants long-haul flights extended to Kerala airports

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on June 18, 2020

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan   -  THE HINDU

This will help passengers avoid double quarantine, says the Kerala Chief Minister

Kerala has demanded that long-haul Covid-19 relief flights from abroad to major cities in India be extended to one of its own airports to spare passengers the trouble of multiple quarantines after landing in the home country. It has also sought changes in quarantine rules to enable them to reach Kerala in time.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said here that international travellers flying for more than 10 hours to India normally land in Delhi, Mumbai or Bengaluru. Many of them carry on board Keralites heading for home. Given this, the Centre should ideally direct the airlines to extend these flights to an airport in Kerala.

Also, passengers who arrive at cities outside Kerala are quarantined there. When they travel onward to Kerala, another round of quarantine awaits them at the destination. “This makes for a scenario that calls for delineation of special operating guidelines/criteria for these aircraft,” the Chief Minister said.

If they cannot be extended to Kerala, those who book their onward tickets to Kerala within five days of their arrival should be permitted to travel home for quarantine. Large aircraft should be used for flying long distances; if Air India does not have them, it should consider hiring aircraft from other companies.

Chief Minister Vijayan also requested the Centre to provide emergency financial assistance to expatriate Indians who may have lost their jobs following the Covid-19 outbreak. “With the loss of jobs, they have also lost their social security in those countries,” he added.

More recoveries than new cases

Meanwhile, for the second time day in the last four days, Kerala reported more recoveries than new cases of Covid-19 cases. Giving figures, the Chief Minister said that 75 new cases were confirmed on Wednesday even as 90 patients under treatment for the same had tested negative.

The death toll within the State stood at 20, but till Wednesday, 277 citizens outside of the State had lost their lives to the virus. “This gives us an indication that the situation continues to be serious and we should do everything possible to avoid the spread of the virus,” the Chief Minister said.

Of the 75 new cases, 53 people had come back from abroad (Kuwait-14; Saudi Arabia-13; the UAE-12; Qatar-4; Oman-4; Bahrain-3; Russia-2; and Kazakhstan-1); 19 had returned from other States (Maharashtra-8; Delhi-5; Tamil Nadu-4; Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat-one each); and three had got infected through primary contact.

Number of daily tests up

So far, 2,697 people have been diagnosed with the virus and 1,351 patients are still under treatment. As many as 1,25,307 persons are now under surveillance; of these 1,23,318 are under observation at their homes or institutional quarantine centres and 1,989 are in hospitals. Wednesday alone saw 203 new admissions.

The State had sent out 5,876 samples for testing on the day. So far, 1,22,446 samples have been sent for testing and the results of 3,019 samples are awaited. As part of sentinel surveillance, 33,559 samples were collected from high-risk priority groups and 32,300 samples have proved negative.

In all, the State had tested 1,61,829 samples as on Wednesday but lagged its immediate neighbours by a huge margin. The comparable figure was 7,73,707 in Tamil Nadu and 4,64,798 in Karnataka. The number of tests per million has improved to 4,607 in Kerala as on date (10,221 in Tamil Nadu and 7,064 in Karnataka).


Published on June 18, 2020

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