Saturday 9 January 2021 12:59 AM UTC
By A Staff Reporter
LONDON Jan 9: Kerala politicians should be hanging their heads in shame for leaving around 100 Keralites from UK including women, children and vulnerable persons stranded overnight at Delhi airport. It was a sleepless night for all the passengers. They sat and slept on the Delhi airport floors not sure when they will travel to their home – God’s Own Country Kerala.
Air India’s AI112 flight with 256 passengers from London landed at the Delhi airport at around 10.30 am on Friday 8th January 2021. Rules regarding air travel from Delhi was changed on the same afternoon (Friday 8th January) which meant those travelling to Kochi were not be able to take the connection flight to Kerala.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Friday afternoon that travellers coming from the UK to Delhi will have to undergo a seven-day institutional quarantine and a seven-day home quarantine even if they test negative for COVID-19 on arrival.
This rule at such a short notice caught all those travelling to Kochi unaware. Several of those who spoke to this website from Delhi airport were furious.
Although news has come out to say that these passengers have now been issued with Boarding Passes for a flight to Kochi at 4.30pm on Saturday (9th January) many are still apprehensive whether there could be any further last minute changes. The stranded passengers have been told to pay for their own food and other expenses at the airport and there wouldn’t be any assistance from the airport.
Scenes taken at 4am from Delhi airport
Many have spent a sleepless night at the Delhi airport. This includes children, vulnerable people who all are travelling to Kerala for emergency reasons under the Vande Bharath repatriation mission.
Reports also say that all other persons who travelled to Delhi were able to get to their respective states but it was just the Keralites who were held up as no Kochi flights were made available for them.
Sanju, who is going for an emergency said: “This is absurd. You cannot tell people the rules have changed after they land. Some notice should have be given. There is at present utter mayhem at Delhi Airport with this flight, families with small children, pregnant woman.”
Reports say that the new rule asking all people arriving from the UK to institutionally quarantine for seven days was published only after the Air India flight from London landed in Delhi on Friday afternoon.
According to reports, as passengers from the UK landed in Delhi, the Indira Gandhi airport tweeted a clarification of the updated Covid-19 testing and isolation rules stating that RT-PCR tests, which could take upto 10 hours, were mandatory for all arriving passengers. In its Tweet the Delhi Airport added that the cost of the test was to be borne by the passengers, and all Covid positive and negative passengers had to adhere to seven days of institutional quarantine, followed by seven days of home quarantine
Anish Thomas speaking to this website from the airport said: “It’s absolutely maniac at Delhi Airport. Asking us to go for institutional quarantine even with a Negative PCR test is not right. They didn’t mention this on the SOP (standard operating procedure).”
Heated arguments between the passengers and security personnel who were present at the airport continued throughout the day when the passengers passports were held by the airport staff.
News about the Keralites from UK stranded in Delhi were published by the national media and politicians were also alerted but no one came forward to help out these stranded UK Malayalees. It was only after the sheer pressure exerted by those stranded helped them to get some sort of assurance.
Air India, however, claimed on Twitter on Friday evening that it had informed the flight’s passengers about the new advisory of the Delhi government before the plane took off from the Heathrow airport last night.
“Around 20 passengers opted to cancel their flight on being informed by Air India’s London team of this advisory. The announcement was repeated during the flight as well,” the carrier added.
Earlier this month, the Union Health Ministry stated that a passenger coming from the UK can board a flight to India only when he has a negative test report from a sample taken 72 hours prior to the journey. Moreover, as per the rules, the passenger also has to take the RT-PCR test on arrival at the entry airport in India.
India had suspended all passenger flights between the UK and India from December 23 to January 7 as a new variant of coronavirus emerged in the UK.
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