Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Over 320 Indians heave a sigh of relief after touchdown in B’luru

Bengaluru: “It was a fairly long trip from the airport to the quarantine facility and I could only wave to my parents from the bus. But it felt like a massive weight was off my shoulders,” Ritika Srivatsan, 18, said on landing in his hometown Bengaluru. The student was stranded in London due to the travel ban amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
Ritika was among the 326 Indian passengers, including three infants, who returned from London via an Air India flight (AI 1803) which landed at Kempegowda International Airport around 4.47am on Monday. Flown back under the Vande Bharat mission, they were relieved, hoping the worst was over. Twelve crew members were also on board.
“After all the uncertainty, I’m glad to be back home regardless of the quarantine, which I think is necessary. I had booked multiple tickets but the lockdown was constantly extended...My parents were concerned about my safety and return. I’m extremely lucky to have been able to fly back on the repatriation flight,” said Ritika.
Bengaluru Air Customs said it facilitated quick clearance of the 326 passengers with due physical distancing. “Preliminary medical tests by the health department showed no suspected Covid-19 cases,” it added.
Families and friends of the passengers had been advised not to visit the airport to receive them. Though a few turned up, they had to be content with seeing their loved ones from a distance.
The passengers had to wait for nearly an hour before they were allowed to deboard. Only two rows were allowed to exit at a time. They had to fill a self-declaration form detailing their health conditions, after which they underwent thermal screening and pulse oximeter reading in batches of 20 to prevent overcrowding.
The flyers were then stamped on the back of their palm with indelible ink showing the number of days they will have to remain under quarantine. They were allowed to choose the quarantine facility (including five-star hotels and resorts).
Amid tight security and frequent sanitisation, passengers were escorted into BMTC buses in batches of 20. Nearly 15 buses ferried them to their chosen quarantine centre. Every bus departed to a round of applause from airport, health and police department staff. All asymptomatic passengers will spend 14 days under quarantine.
12/05/20 Times of India
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