Friday, June 26, 2020

State-specific protocols as sought by Kerala for bringing back expats cannot be implemented: Union Minister

Thiruvananthapuram: The Centre has informed Kerala that state specific protocols, as demanded by it, for bringing back expatriates from overseas cannot be implemented since it cannot interfere with procedures in foreign countries, Union Minister V Muraleedharan has said.
The Minister of State for External Affairs was referring to the demand made Kerala earlier that the Centre provide testing facilities through Indian embassies for expatriates returning home from foreign countries as part of the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) for people stranded overseas due to COVID-19 pandemic.
"The VBM flights carrying expats to India will follow the same Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) and state specific protocol cannot be implemented. The ministry has informed the state government," he told the media here on Thursday.
 According to the SOP, any expatriate coming from abroad will undergo all tests that were being conducted in those countries in accordance with the norms applicable there, the Rajya Sabha MP from Maharashtra said. "Rest of the guidelines and restrictions suggested by Kerala is impractical for the external affairs ministry and we have informed the same to the state," he said. The Kerala government had earlier made pre-flight COVID-19 testing mandatory for those travelling from abroad to avoid chances of co-passengers getting infected from the positive patient, a decision which drew flak from the opposition Congress led UDF.
However, taking into view non-availability of facilities in certain nations, it had relaxed the condition and issued fresh guidelines on Wednesday, saying those who did not have negative certificate will have to undergo rapid antibody test on arrival in the state from Thursday. The guidelines also said the passengers should wear an N- 95 mask, face shield and gloves among other measures. It also said passengers from certain countries, where there are no testing facilities, must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while flying into the state.
26/06/20 PTI/Outlook
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