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Kozhikode: Empty beds inside a quarantine centre set up near Calicut International Airport in Kozhikode Image Credit: PTI

Dubai: The Indian state of Kerala on Wednesday announced a lenient approach to the quarantine measures to be followed by overseas Indians being repatriated amid the COVID-19 situation, with those from the UAE being the first among them.

At a press conference, Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan announced that pregnant women returning from abroad and other Indian states can proceed for home quarantine.

The central government has mandated institutional quarantine paid by the passengers for 14 days, following which they will be tested for coronavirus.

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Those tested negative will only be allowed to go home and be under self-monitored quarantine for another 14 days.

However, Kerala has reduced the mandatory quarantine time period in government-arranged facilities to seven days.

“When people fly in, we will not send everyone home directly. Everyone will have to be in quarantine facilities arranged by the government at least for seven days,” said Vijayan.

On the seventh day, PCR test for coronavirus will be conducted and those who tested negative will be sent home, he said.

The test result will be announced the next day. Those who test positive will be sent to hospitals.

Those who proceed to their homes will have to remain in quarantine for one more week, said Vijayan.

He said antibody tests would also be widely done on overseas returnees.

So far, 442,000 Keralites stranded in various countries, including over 9,000 pregnant women, have registered with the Non-Resident Keralites Affairs’ (NORKA) online portal.

As many as 2,250 people are expected to reach Kerala in the first week of repatriation, Vijayan said,

The first two repatriation flights from the UAE will be operated to Kerala.

Air India Express will operate the first flight from Dubai to Kozhikode and the second flight from Abu Dhabi to Kochi.

Some of the short-listed passengers on these flights include pregnant women.

Vijayan said quarantine facilities will be made available not only near the airports, but also in the districts.

“Quarantine facilities have been arranged in their [returnees’] home districts also,” the chief minister said.