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Pinarayi Vijayan writes to PM on diaspora's return

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Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue and manner of handling of return of diaspora from various countries.

"In the first five days, 2,280 passengers will arrive at Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram airports. While the Centre has listed only 80,000 people, 4.42 lakh people have registered with our system. Of this, 1,69,136 are in the category who have to return immediately," said Vijayan after the daily Covid-19 review meeting, here on Tuesday.

The first four flights will land on Thursday.

The Chief Minister claimed to have brought to attention of the Prime Minister exclusion of the Kannur airport for evacuation. "As per our registry, 69,170 people want to fly to Kannur airport," he said.

He said people seeking to reach India from abroad were not being asked to undergo a coronavirus test. "It's serious. In a flight of 200, if one or two carried the virus, so many others will get infected. I have urged him to see that all were tested before boarding the aircraft," Vijayan said.

If that didn't happen, all arriving persons would have to be quarantined at facilities set up by the state government.

"After a week, a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test will be conducted. Those testing negative be allowed to go home and the rest will have to stay in quarantine for another week. Those testing positive will be sent to hospital. We have placed a fresh order for 200,000 antibody testing kits," said Vijayan.

He said two ships would soon bring back people from the Maldives and another ship from the UAE to Kochi. All of them would be quarantined, he added.

On air fares, Vijayan said it won't be exorbitant. "We have raised the issue with the Centre and we expect some relaxation, especially for those who have no jobs," said Vijayan.

He said 2.50 lakh beds had been identified and 1.63 lakh beds readied in the state.

"Apart from this, 1,80,540 Keralites are waiting in other states to return. Around 25,410 passes have been issued and 3,363 people have returned. Also, all those coming from red zone districts will be quarantined," Vijayan said.

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