Friday 20 March 2020 1:57 AM UTC
NEW DELHI March 20: The Ministry of External Affairs in India said that Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) who are based in India but were abroad at the time the government revoked their visa facility, would not be allowed back at this stage.
Sources said the government’s aim was to “minimise the impact of what might happen until we know the full extent of the [virus’s spread].”
When asked how Indians and resident OCIs in these locations, including many students on a tight budget, were expected to manage, MEA officials said, “Ideally they must take care of themselves locally with whatever resources they have, and our missions are in the forefront to support these stranded Indian and helping them to the best of our abilities.”
In addition the MEA said it was attempting arrange enough flights for “Coronavirus-negative” Indians who are stuck at airports including London, Schiphol, Rome, Manila, Kuala Lumpur and other cities, as soon as possible, but may not be able to facilitate their return before the Sunday deadline.
According to Mr. Ravi, the government has managed to bring back all those who needed to be brought back from Singapore, and local missions would help passengers in other locations.
The MEA conceded that many passengers had been offloaded from flights to India because some airlines had “wrongly interpreted” the embargo times, and they would study such cases separately.
In particular, the MEA expects to run a number of flights to Italy over the weekend from Rome and Milan. “We have received the test results of those stuck in Italy, and fortunately a large number have been found to be negative, and we will be working out the logistics for their return,” officials said.
Meanwhile the government said it is working on commitments made to neighbouring SAARC nations during the video-conference initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday.
“The [$10 million] emergency fund is already up and running,” said Mr. Kumar, adding that requests totalling about $1 million for masks, gloves and disinfectants have already been received, of which supplies have been dispatched to Bhutan and the Maldives.
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