Air India Express flight that took off from Abu Dhabi with 177 Indian nationals on board has landed in Kochi.
The first Air India Express flight took off from Abu Dhabi to Kochi, which was followed by a Dubai-Kozhikode flight of the same airline. Meanwhile, Indian Navy’s INS Jalashwa, also reached the Maldives to bring back stranded Indian citizens.
In other major development, the BS Yeddyurappa-led government has decided to restart train services for migrant labourers, a day after the Karnataka government’s decision to scrap trains ferrying migrants back home attracted criticism from several quarters. The state government has written to nodal officers of various states seeking their consent to operate trains to their states from May 8 to 15.
As far as Covid-19 numbers are concerned, the overall tally in the country has touched 52,952, including 1783 deaths even as the Centre and state governments continued to chalk out lockdown exit strategies after May 17. While there are 35902 active cases at present, as many as 15266 patients have recovered so far. As many as 64 flights and three Navy ships will be operated until May 13 to bring home nearly 15,000 Indians stranded overseas from Thursday.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked all those in the frontline of the Covid-19 war, saying their selfless work for others during the pandemic is worthy of praise. He said India is standing firmly with those facing difficult times, both in the country and abroad.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) Tracker India Updates: Cases cross 50,000 mark, govt begins evacuating Indians from abroad. Follow LIVE updates | Read in Bangla, Tamil here
Foreign nationals flown out from Pune airport in a special flight (File Photo)
With Indians stranded in the Middle East to be evacuated from Thursday, elaborate safety measures have been put in place at Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), where the first flight from Abu Dhabi is expected that night.
Pilots and cabin crew of Air India’s first batch of flights have been given training in infection control practices, apart from undergoing RT-PCR test. Twelve Air India personnel, including four pilots, were trained by Kochi government medical college.
Medical college Resident Medical Officer Dr Ganesh Mohan said, “We trained them in using PPE suits and wearing face shield on board and handling health emergencies on flight. They were also trained in infection control practices. The demonstrations were held as per the protocol, and they were given PPE kits,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Delhi International Airport will see over 3,600 Indian nationals stranded in other countries being flown in over the coming week. The GMR-led Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) issued guidelines for passengers and staff to follow to ensure their safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starting Thursday, the evacuation process will continue for a week with over 14 flights coming in from Malaysia, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, USA, Philippines and Singapore. The first flight is from Malaysia with over 250 passengers. Airport authorities have stated that the flights will land at Terminal 3. Out of the 14 flights, three are connecting flights — they will land in Delhi and proceed to Bengaluru/ Hyderabad.
As per the flight plan prepared by the External Affairs Ministry, the Delhi Airport won’t see more than three evacuation flights a day. Passengers will first be screened, then sent to quarantine centres. After two weeks, they will be sent to their hometowns.
Administering the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for 15 lakh candidates amid a pandemic is set to become the largest and most challenging exam management exercise for the Union government.
The National Testing Agency (NTA), The Indian Express has learnt, has been asked by the HRD Ministry to double the number of test centres to maintain social distancing during the exam.
Following government directions, the NTA is now planning to seat two candidates two metres apart, which, in other words, means it will need roughly 6,000 test centres, as opposed to the originally planned 3,000, to accommodate 15 lakh NEET aspirants. Till last year, two candidates were usually seated at a distance of one metre.
A child wearing a protective face mask plays with bubbles next to a masked woman as they walk along a pavement in Beijing (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
China on Wednesday dared US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to show the “enormous evidence” he has to prove that the novel coronavirus originated from a lab in Wuhan and asserted that the matter should be handled by scientists instead of politicians out of their domestic political compulsions in an election year.
In recent days, US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo have claimed that the deadly virus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak was first detected last December. The two leaders have also said that China has refused to give international scientists access to learn what happened.