The BMC is gearing up for around 2,800 Indian nationals, to be evacuated from various countries and scheduled to land at the Mumbai international airport, over the next seven days.
Following guidelines issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and taking note of shortage of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients, the civic body is set to allow people living outside Mumbai to travel further to their destinations if they show no symptoms of the infection.
These Indians who are returning have been unable to come home since March 22, when India shut down its airports and suspended all international flights. The first two flights from London and Singapore are expected to arrive on May 9 with around 500 Indians.
Earlier, the flights were to arrive on May 7. However, now it has been decided that the passengers will all be tested for COVID-19 at airports prior to departure, pushing back the schedule. Senior BMC officials said that as per MEA’s tentative plan, 2,850 passengers will land in Mumbai in 11 flights over the next seven days. The flights will arrive from UAE, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Singapore, Bangladesh and Philippines, said officials.
Officials added that as per the guidelines, the BMC, along with a team from the Union government, will only screen all arrivals for COVID-19 symptoms, as those coming in would have already been administered the test prior to departure and cleared for travel.
“All asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to leave for their respective districts or states. BMC will coordinate with RTO and Mumbai Police for their transportation. They will have to bear the taxi charges. If symptoms are found in a passenger, he or she will be tested again and if found positive, the person will be shifted to municipal quarantine facilities or dedicated hospitals,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Jayshree Bhoj, who is coordinating with the MEA and the passengers.
All arriving from abroad will have to follow 14-days quarantine at their homes. If any passenger tests positive in Mumbai, the person will be sent to institutional quarantine or hospital depending upon his health condition. Those wishing to quarantine in hotels would have to pay for their stay.
The BMC is struggling to fill the gap between available hospital beds and the increasing number of COVID-19 patients. With cases having crossed the 10,000-mark in Mumbai, BMC has decided to increase the number of hospital beds for the infected to 4,500 from 3,000 in the next few days.
Before the lockdown was imposed, BMC had screened over 2.5 lakh travellers at the airport.
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