Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Many Keralites among 300 Indians stuck in Italy over coronavirus curb; plead for help

Kochi: Over 300 passengers, the majority of them are Keralites, stuck at the Milan International Airport on Tuesday after the Italian officials denied them permission to board flights to India citing the Union Health Ministry's advisory to furnish a certificate from authorized laboratories that they are COVID-19 negative.

They told TNIE over the phone that despite the panic calls to the Indian Embassy, the Indian officials are yet to respond.
"Since the virus is rapidly spreading across Italy, it is not safe to be here. The basic needs like food and travel are getting limited and hence we are returning home," said Muhammed Ashiq T, a Ph.D. student in Italy. He said he booked a ticket for a Tuesday night flight to Delhi.

“The ministry's directive is impractical,” Ashiq said. “A person living in a safe environment will have to go to a potentially virus-affected laboratory for medical checkup. With people exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms queuing up for tests, the laboratories will not be ready to tend to a person with no symptoms,” he said.

“Even if we obtain the certificate, there are chances of contracting the disease while travelling or from any other place,” he said.

Another person who returned to Kochi on March 3 from Italy said such measures will only make it difficult for people wishing to leave the affected country.       

“There are apprehensions while boarding a flight. At the same time, there is the hope of reaching one's homeland,” said the Aluva native who did not wish to be named.

“The government officials are not taking enough measures to tackle the spread of the virus in Italy. People are freely travelling in public transport.
10/03/20 Kiran Narayanan/New Indian Express
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