Air India Express Kochi repatriation flights Kerala
Passengers on an Air India Express flight from the UAE land in Kochi Image Credit: PTI

Dubai: The Indian Consulate in Dubai on Wednesday said it has flown home more than 800 pregnant women and 850 patients since May 7 on special repatriation flights from the UAE during COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have so far sent more than 800 pregnant women in advanced stage pregnancy and 850 plus patients back to India,” the mission said in a tweet.

The mission has been prioritising applications from pregnant women, those with medical emergencies, the elderly, workers who lost jobs and stranded visitors on the repatriation flights under the Vande Bharat Mission.

On May 16, a record 108 pregnant women and 148 people with medical emergencies were flown back on three flights.

Seventy-five of the pregnant women left Dubai for Kochi on one single flight on that day, as the second phase of coronavirus repatriation flights got underway.

As reported by Gulf News, the Indian missions in the UAE have received registrations from more than 350,000 applicants –which is more than 10 per cent of the population of Indian expats in the country—to fly home during the pandemic. More than 6,500 of them are pregnant women from various states, and many of them are in advanced stage of pregnancy.

Around 7,500 Indians in all have been flown home from the UAE so far.

Dedicate a dish

The consulate’s tweet about repatriation of pregnant women and patients on Wednesday was a reply to a tweet by Vicky, a Dubai-based Indian RJ, who urged Vikas Khanna, a Michelin-starred chef in the US, to name a dish after the Indian Consulate for its great efforts in facilitating the repatriation of Indians in distress.

Thanking the RJ, the mission said: “We know there are thousands waiting but it is [a] tough task for us to prioritise them.”

“And ensuring not even a single seat remains vacant...Still we apologise to others who are deserving and could not reach out...We will do it. We shall do it with all support of community.”

The RJ’s request to name a dish after the mission follows the chef-cum-writer and TV host hitting the headlines for delivering food to millions of poor and hungry people across India and for naming a dish after Bollywood actor Sonu Sood, who has been helping the migrants and other stranded persons go back home from various Indian states.

Reports said Khanna had named a dish, which he described as ‘Tandoori Masala Salmon-English Cucumber Salad-Coconut Garlic Foam’ as ‘Moga’, Sonu’s birthplace in Punjab, to honour the actor for his great deeds during the pandemic.