Tuesday, March 10, 2020

‘Where do we go?’: Indians stuck at Milan airport as India tightens rules over COVID-19

“Where will we go if not home?” asks a bunch of Indians stranded at the Milan International Airport in Italy, in a short video. The question is to the Indian government which released a notification asking passengers boarding flights from coronavirus-infected countries such as Italy and South Korea to produce a certificate that proves they have tested negative for the virus.

About 300 Indians who came to the airport to take a flight to Kochi have been told by the airport authorities that they cannot board it. However, later in the night, a few did manage to board the flight, while others were left behind.

Neither the Italian government nor the Emirates flight they planned to take has a problem with it, the stranded passengers say in the video. “Where should we, the NRIs (Non-Resident Indians), go then? It is one hour before check-in that we are told the Indian government is not allowing us to take the flight home. Where should we go then?” a woman asks, overcome with emotion.

They take turns to say that they have no issue in staying quarantined for 14 or 28 days or being taken for any tests. “We are not going to run away. Do you only need us when there are floods in our land?” asks a man. There are children and pregnant women among them, he says.

A native of Malappuram, who is among the stranded passengers, tells TNM that the certificate that they have been asked to produce is not easy to get. Firstly, they will need to risk going to coronavirus-infected areas, to try to get a certificate that proves they have tested negative. Secondly, the hospitals are already overloaded with COVID-19 patients, they wouldn’t test those who came without symptoms.

The travel advisory circular issued by the government of India restricts foreign passengers from various countries to travel to India, and also says, “In addition to Visa restrictions already in place, passengers travelling from/ having visited Italy or Republic of Korea and desirous of entering India will need certificate of having tested negative for COVID-19 from the designated laboratories authorized by the health services of these countries. This will be enforced from 00:00 Hrs of 10th March 2020 and is a temporary measure till cases of COVID-19 subside (sic).”
10/03/20 News Minute
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