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COVID-19: Iranian carriers to evacuate Indians in Gulf state

COVID-19: Iranian carriers to evacuate Indians in Gulf state
March 13
10:44 2020

NEW DELHI: The Centre has decided to evacuate Indians stuck in Iran due to the outbreak of coronavirus in the Middle Eastern country by allowing the operation of two special ferry flights.

As per plans, the first flight of Iran Air will evacuate Indians from the Middle Eastern country to Mumbai on March 13, while the second flight will be operated by Mahan Air on March 15 to New Delhi. After landing, the evacuees will taken to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, where they will be quarantined at an Indian Army facility created for the purpose there. The individuals will be transferred from the airport post their initial screening to the quarantine facility.

Presently, only Mahan Air and Iran Air operate flight services between India and Iran. However, last month, the services of these two airlines to India were discontinued to prevent the spread of the global pandemic.

The plan envisages ferrying only those Indians back, who have tested negative for coronavirus. Iran had announced the first cases of viral infection in the central Qom city on February 18. Currently, many Indian pilgrims and students are stranded in the Middle Eastern country. There are many Indians, mostly from Kargil area in Kashmir, stranded there. They had gone to visit a religious shrine in Iran but got stuck as regular commercial flights were suspended between the two countries following the spread of the virus.

Similarly, many Iranians are currently in India who would be flown back to their country by the ferry flights.

A team of Indian doctors has already been sent to Iran for ensuring that stranded citizens there are thoroughly examined before boarding the evacuation flight. “These airlines will bring Indians stranded in Iran back to Mumbai and Delhi,” Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola told IANS. “From Mumbai and Delhi airports, these evacuated Indians will be transferred by Air India to Jaisalmer for quarantine,” he added.

On Thursday, Kharola chaired a meeting with different government agencies and stakeholders to review the preparedness for the evacuation of Indian citizens from Iran. Earlier in the month, Iranian carrier Mahan Air brought back blood samples of 300 Indians stranded in the coronavirus-hit country and while returning, its aircraft flew back Iranian nationals in India. IANS

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