OICC UK’s efforts pave way for Kerala govt to offer free RT-PCR tests to all returning expats free of cost – UKMALAYALEE

OICC UK’s efforts pave way for Kerala govt to offer free RT-PCR tests to all returning expats free of cost

Friday 26 February 2021 10:12 PM UTC

LONDON Feb 26: The hardships face by migrants when travelling from the UK to Kerala had increased with the stopping of direct flights from UK to Kerala. Those who had to travel to Kerala for emergency situations had to disembark at one of the four airports to which there are direct flights and then follow the Covid protocols of that state. By the time they have reached Kerala they would have spent so much on Covid tests and also faced severe hardships.

The OICC UK leadership demanded that the Kerala government be prepared to help expatriates by providing the RT-PCR Covid-19 test either free of charge or at a discounted rate. OICC UK also requested the government to give due consideration to those expatriates arriving to attend funerals by reducing their quarantine period from two to one week.

The Kerala government on Friday announced that they will conduct RT-PCR tests free of cost for expatriates returning to the state. The decision on RT-PCR tests, considered the gold standard to detect the Covid-19, has been taken following a direction by the Centre in view of over 30 per cent increase in Covid-19 cases in the state in the last one week, Health Minister K K Shailaja said.

OICC UK has claimed that it was the pressure they exerted on the central and state governments that led the state government to provide the RT-PCR tests free of cost for expatriates.

OICC UK Joint Convener KK Mohandas had sent complaints to Kerala Chief Minister and Union Minister of State for External Affairs strongly protesting against the brutal treatment meted out to expatriates. OICC UK Convener Thekkumuri Haridas had also urged the state and central governments to take steps to provide free tests to expatriates.

OICC UK regional leaders Soni Chacko, Mitcham Makesh, Sunil Raveendran, Appa Ghafoor, Alsahar Ali, Rajesh, Baiju, Saju and Roni have been relentlessly voicing the issues faced by the migrants in the UK.

Kerala government said on Friday that as many 3,671 more people were tested positive, taking the infection count to 10.52 lakh. The toll due to the disease rose to 4,164 with 14 more deaths, while three people who came from the UK were among the fresh cases and active cases stood at a little over 51,000.

Addressing a press meet here, Health Minister K K Shailaja said the Centre has directed the state to intensify testing at airports and also cautioned that there were chances of a second wave of coronavirus in 16 states in the state. “The state government will conduct RT-PCR tests free of cost for the expats reaching the state and the results will be given to them,” the Minister said.

The Centre has issued the direction based on the fact that there was a 31 per cent increase in Covid-19 cases in the state in the last one week, she said. “The union government has also informed us that there are chances of a second wave of Covid-19 spread in 16 states in the country,” the minister said.

In a release giving Covid-19 details for Friday, Shailaja said with 3,671 more cases, the total caseload rose to 10,52,706. The number UK returnees testing positive for Covid-19 has risen to 94, including 11 earlier found with new strain. The state tested 67,812 samples and the test positivity rate was 5.41 per cent. Till now, a total of 1,13,39,805 samples have been tested in the state so far.

“Among those found infected today, 91 reached the state from outside while 3,317 contracted the disease from their contacts. The source of infection of 250 is yet to be traced. Thirteen health workers are also among the infected,” she said.

Meanwhile, 4,142 people were cured of the disease on Friday taking the total recoveries in the state to 9,96,514. Currently, there were 51,390 people under treatment while 2,23,191 others remained under observation, 7,946 of them in isolation wards of various hospitals. Two regions were removed from the list of hot spots as its tally stood at 370. – With inputs from PTI

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