Chartered flights from Gulf countries to carry only non-Covid passengers from June 20

The Kerala government has made it mandatory for those boarding chartered flights to produce a certificate stating they have tested negative for Covid-19. Over one lakh expatriates are expected to reach Kerala from West Asian countries on chartered flights in coming weeks.

The state has so far given sanction for 750 chartered flights.

The direction by principal secretary E Ellangovan stated that this condition applies to all flights for which consent letters have been issued earlier. For cases in which a Covid-19 patient requires urgent medical care, air ambulance provision may be availed, it stated.

Norka Roots, the non-resident Keralite welfare affairs department, has written to all agencies concerned, regarding the matter. Vice-chairman of Norka Roots, K Varadarajan said, “When thousands are scheduled to return to Kerala… we have to take precautionary steps. We have already given sanction for 750 flights. Passengers have to take antibody tests. If a large number of infected persons reach Kerala, it would be difficult for the state… those at the homes of returnees would also be exposed,” he said.

Ellangovan said COVID-19 cases were increasing in Kerala and about 89% of those infected were those who had returned from abroad.

Hitting out at the government, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said it is “strange” that the LDF government, which had passed a resolution in the assembly against the Centre for insisting on Covid negative certificates, had now taken a similar decision, and demanded that it be re-considered. “There was no such stipulation for those returning by flights of the Vande Bharat mission and the decision is likely to cause immense hardships”, Chennithala said.