Indian Aircraft To Fly To UAE With Medics And Medicines
Workers return to their camp in Sonapur, UAEPhoto credit: Rejimon Kuttappan

Indian Aircraft To Fly To UAE With Medics And Medicines

Indian naval vessels will be docking UAE coast to initiate a mass evacuation in a week or two, says a source

Indian aircraft and naval vessels will be sent to United Arab Emirates (UAE) to help Indians who wish to return to India during the COVID-19 pandemic, high-level sources in the UAE and India have said.

“Indian aircraft with medics and medicines will be coming to UAE. And Indian naval vessels will be docking at the UAE coast to initiate a mass evacuation in a week or two,” a high-level source who has taken part in the talks revealed to The Lede.

Around 8.5 million Indians are residing in the Arab Gulf countries.

A month ago, The Lede had reported that the COVID-19 crisis is worsening in the UAE and that the Indian government has to step up its initiatives to help Indians.

"The suggestions like sending medics and medicines have been agreed upon by both governments. In the coming week itself, ships will dock and the embassy is validating the list of those who want to return," the source said adding that the situation in UAE is worrying.

Updated data reveal that there are around 11,5000 positive cases with 89 deaths in the UAE.

The UAE has relaxed its 24-hour lockdown norms for the month of Ramadan.

Last Friday, Dubai cut its Emirate-wide 24-hour lockdown back to a 10:00 pm to 6:00 am curfew.

It also has taken the same step in the Al Ras and Naif districts, which were sealed off as part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

The government media office said in a statement said that the lockdown was relaxed as no new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the two areas.

For three weeks, Dubai had imposed a strict lockdown, during which residents were asked to stay at home.

An Indian in Dubai said that when the lockdown was relaxed, people were misusing the freedom without any fear of this deadly disease.

“Shopping malls were opened. Restaurants were opened. People started to rush to these places as there is nothing to be afraid of. Even offices started to function. We didn’t go out. People are not maintaining social distance at all,” the Indian resident said.

Meanwhile, the source said that the vessels coming will also be having medics. “In the initial stage, some 10,000 will be evacuated," the source said.

"And the list of those who wish to return will be sourced from organisations on the ground in the UAE and prepared by the NORKA," he added.

Non-Resident Keralite Affairs (NORKA) is a Kerala government body set up for the welfare of Keralites abroad.

It had opened an online registration and so far, more than 2.5 lakh Keralites have registered as willing to return.

Out of that, around 1.2 lakh are those who have registered from UAE.

The Kerala government said in a statement that a committee under the district collector with representatives from the Airports Authority of India and Kerala Police would oversee the arrangements at the airports to receive the returning Keralites.

“There will be doctors and paramedical staff at the airport for detailed checking of the arriving passengers," the statement added.

Quoting the Kerala chief minister, the statement added that after the initial screening, those without symptoms would be sent to their homes for quarantine, adding that there would be regular monitoring by the police and healthcare workers to ensure that they follow the quarantine rules.

“If the central government decides to bring the Keralites by ships, we will make similar arrangements at the ports also,” the chief minister was quoted in the statement.

Meanwhile, detailing the situation in UAE, a social worker who requested condition of anonymity said that many Indians who have tested are not still getting proper medical assistance, shelter, and food.

“Yes, we agree that the UAE government has set up more beds. But as the number of infected is growing, we need more beds. Now, the situation is that those who are infected are told to stay their rooms, which is a real concern,” the social worker added.

“Additionally, food is still a problem for many, as companies have stopped salary and shops remain closed. Without the Indian government stepping in, we won’t be able to survive,” the social worker added.

Meanwhile, the official news agency of UAE reported that the country has conducted over 1,122,000 tests in hospitals and health centres, and has so far established 14 drive-through testing centres.

This is in addition to a mobile testing service for the elderly and people of determination for home tests.

The rate of testing in the UAE is one of the highest in the world at more than 107,000 per one million of the population.

Iceland leads the rate at just over 135,000 tests per million of the total population.

The UAE health authorities are giving priority to testing people who show COVID-19 symptoms (dry cough, fever, or shortness of breath), have had close contact with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case, or had travel history within a certain timeframe that could explain infection.

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