After its massive airlift operations from Kuwait in 1990, India on Thursday, May 7, has conducted its next colossal mission of bringing back close to 15,000 Indian nationals from 12 countries.
The Vande Bharat Mission carried out with the help of 64 flights will bring back 15,000 stranded Indians from the worst Covid affected regions like London, the US, and the Gulf countries.
The first phase of the evacuation that began on Thursday will last till May 13 where Indians in UEA, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Bangladesh, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, United Kingdom and the United States will be brought back.
Centre issues guidelines
As India carries out one of the world's biggest rescue mission for the stranded Indians abroad, despite the soaring number of cases in the country, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued a set of additional guidelines for quarantine of returnees from abroad, that focuses on their contacts and isolation of suspects or confirmed cases in private facilities.
As per the guidelines issued by the Health Ministry on Thursday, a large number of facilities such as hotels (including 5-star and 4-star), service apartments, and lodges which remained unoccupied due to the impact of Covid-19 have been allotted for the quarantine and isolation facilities for these returnees.
This facility, according to the Centre, reduces the pressure on the family while protecting members and immediate neighbourhood. The decision also helps those families where proper isolation facilities are not affordable.
The ministry has ensured that the hotels and lodges provide single room on a paid basis to contacts and cases with attached washrooms. The ministry said the tariff for the accommodation and services shall be fixed by the facility in consultation with the state government and widely publicised.
Doctor and nurse ensured in hotels
The availability of a trained doctor and a nurse on 24X7 basis is also ensured for these facilities.
After the checkups enabled at the terminal points, those returnees who are assessed to be pre-symptomatic or very mild shall only be kept in an isolation facility. These facilities, said the ministry, will follow the norms established for COVID Care Centres by the Central government.
"Such facility that opts for isolation will have separate earmarked areas for keeping suspect cases and confirmed cases and will ensure no inter-mingling of these two categories. The contact or patient opting for such quarantine or isolation facility will give an undertaking available at the ministry's website," said the Health Ministry.
All states, particularly those like Kerala and Maharashtra that have reported more number of positive Covid cases need to prepare large facilities to hold passengers in isolation for quarantine and testing.
The District Surveillance Officers will be informed of the list of returnees under the isolation condition. The ministry has emphasised for those in isolation to strictly abide the Centre's rules from preventing themselves from engaging in meeting people or stepping out of their homes. Measures on stringent monitoring of their patients are already underway by the Health Ministry.
In addition to this, the guidelines have also demanded the hotels and lodges to provide the patients with an adequate supply of food and water, along with disinfected linens, towels, etc. which would be used by them. The patients will only be discharged after the confirmed negative reports on their tests.
(inputs from IANS)