Goa’s first Vande Bharat flight, ferrying 155 Indians from Dubai, led to an “unruly” and “unfortunate set of events” at Dabolim airport Tuesday, with some passengers refusing to go into paid 14-day institutional quarantine, said Health Secretary Nila Mohanan.
Mohanan called the entire episode “avoidable”, saying this was in violation of the guidelines laid down by the MHA, the MEA and also the protocol the state follows under the Disaster Management Act.
The flight had 155 passengers. It arrived post-midnight, but the passengers remained at the airport for long, refusing to enter institutional quarantine.
“A very unfortunate set of events happened at the Dabolim airport since past midnight, when the Vande Bharat flight from Dubai landed. It had passengers, most of whom are from Goa, and some from Maharashtra and Karnataka. We had around 155 passengers in total…” said Mohanan at the press conference. “Now when these passengers reached Dabolim airport, they started a hue and cry that they will not go into paid institutional quarantine. They said they want to go home.”
According to Mohanan, each flight has a WhatsApp group where the passengers are added with senior officials, and all instructions shared. Further, the passengers also sign a document from the country they fly, confirming to go to paid, institutional quarantine according to MEA and MHA guidelines of May 5, 2020.
“This created a very, very unpleasant situation at the airport. In fact, the behaviour is violative of a whole lot of clauses in the MHA and MEA guidelines. It is very regrettable that this kind of behaviour was exhibited by our brothers and sisters who came back from Dubai,” she stressed, adding the government had taken a note of the disturbance.
The entire episode, she added, also impacts the swab collection exercise and other protocols in place at the airport.
“We were here to welcome and receive them but they went back on their commitment which they had duly signed and given at the time of boarding the flight. Among the reasons why we feel saddened by this is because there were pregnant ladies in that group, there were children in that group,” she added.
Mohanan pointed out that each passenger had also chosen the quarantine facility of their liking, and buses were arranged accordingly for all.
“When they do not co-operate… it also demotivates the entire machinery that is working to welcome and safeguard them,” she said.
Later in the night, everyone finally agreed and went to their paid quarantine facilities.
Goa Tuesday reported six more active cases — with the state now accounting for 22 cases. Those who tested positive were four more family members of a patient and two neighbours at Mangor Hill, which is now a containment zone in South Goa.
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