indian repatriation
1.8 million Indians will return home in the first phase of repatriation Image Credit: Gulf News

Abu Dhabi/Dubai: Indians returning home on COVID-19 repatriation flights from the UAE will have to undergo mandatory medical tests before departure while tests for coronavirus will be conducted only after a compulsory 14-day institutional quarantine upon landing in India, the health protocol issued by the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi said.

As reported by Gulf News earlier, all passengers will be required to sign an undertaking to undergo compulsory quarantine at the point of arrival and bear the cost for the same.

On Tuesday night, the Indian Embassy issued a press release further explaining the health protocol to be followed by passengers before departure and after landing in India, even as the Indian government begins one of the world’s largest repatriation drives from May 7.

At departure

All departing passengers will have to undergo medical screening and IGM/IGG tests at the airport of departure and only those cleared by the UAE health authorities and found to be asymptomatic will be allowed to board the plane, the embassy said.

Each passenger, at the time of boarding, will be handed a safety kit containing two three-layered face masks, two pairs of gloves and pouches/small bottles of hand sanitisers.

While onboard the flight, the health protocol of the Ministry of Civil Aviation of India will be strictly followed.

“This will include wearing of masks, [maintaining] environmental hygiene, respiratory hygiene and hand hygiene. This will be followed by airline staff and crew members and all passengers,” the embassy statement said.

On arrival 

The embassy statement further said: “On arrival at the destination airport, thermal screening, as per health protocol, would be carried out in respect of all the passengers by the health officials present at the airport.”

“The passengers who are found to be symptomatic during the screening shall be immediately taken to a medical facility as per the health protocol.”

The remaining passenger will be taken to suitable institutional quarantine facilities. These passengers shall be kept under institutional quarantine for a minimum period of 14 days, the embassy said.

“If they test negative after 14 days, they will be allowed to go home and will undertake self-monitoring of their health for another 14 days as per protocol. The remaining persons will be shifted to a medical facility by the state or union territory government,” the statement added.

Passenger list finalised

The first two Air India Express flights from the UAE will take off from Dubai to Kozhikode and Abu Dhabi to Kochi on May 7. Acording to the first week’s air repatriation schedule, around 1,900 people are slated to be taken back to India from the UAE.

The passenger lists for the two flights for Thursday have been finalised by the Indian missions in the UAE and dispatched to Air India Express for issuing tickets.

The Indian missions in the UAE will continue to convey the details of further special flights as and when they are announced by the Government of India over the next few days, the embassy said.

Priority will be given to workers in distress, elderly people, those with urgent medical conditions, pregnant women as well as people who are stranded in difficult situations, the consulate had said.

Declaration forms

In the first set of emails sent out on Tuesday to short-listed applicants wishing to catch the first two flights to Kerala, the consulate asked workers and professionals who have lost their jobs to ensure that exit formalities, including visa cancellation, are complete.

Pregnant women should submit medical documents stating the term of pregnancy and any other urgent medical reasons. They should also provide a 'fit-to-travel' certificate from the doctor before the flight.

Those flying due to urgent medical requirements should also share supporting documents.

“Please note that in the initial phase, priority will be given to people who can travel alone, unless there are exceptional circumstances for which names and passport numbers of family members required to travel may please be shared immediately. Please note that the consulate’s decision in this regard will be final,” a copy of the notification issued by the embassy and seen by Gulf News said.

As reported by Gulf News, the notification also informed applicants that they will have to buy their tickets costing around Rs15,000 (Dh737).

“You will also have to fulfil all conditions for travel as prescribed by Government of India and Government of the UAE,” it added.

The mission had also given a deadline of 2pm on Tuesday for all applicants to confirm their consent to fly, abiding by the conditions mentioned.