The Ministry of External Affairs, on Friday, said that about 10.5 Lakh Indians have returned from abroad after the government launched the “Vande Bharat” evacuation mission on May 7 in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
MEA spokesman Anurag Srivastava said the fifth phase of the Vande Bharat mission is currently underway, with 300 international flights and 70 domestic feeders operating from August 1-12, reaching 22 airports across India.
Around 500 international flights are scheduled to be operated this month, he said.
“Earlier this week, on August 11, we passed the 1 million mark as part of the Vande Bharat Mission. To date, a total of around 10.5 lakh of stranded Indians have returned in various modes as part of this mission,” said Srivastava at an online press conference.
Based on an ongoing assessment of demand from Indian missions and posts, repatriation flights have been added from Armenia, Bangladesh, Japan, Israel, New Zealand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Ukraine, he said.
The number of flights from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and Southeast Asia has continued to rise, he said.
“In addition to the bilateral ‘travel bubble’ arrangement with the US, Germany and France that is operational, the arrangement with the UK is expected to start on September 1st,” said Srivastava.
“Similar deals with others, including our neighboring countries, are expected soon. Yesterday we announced a travel bubble deal with the Maldives,” he said.
After the unfortunate accident on the flight from Dubai to Kozhikode on August 7th, the MEA set up a 24-hour control room with helplines to inform and support those affected.
This control room was operational until August 10, the officer said.
On August 8, the Ministry of Civil Aviation launched an online portal called “Air Suvidha” through which arriving passengers can apply online for exemption from institutional quarantine.
This would apply to those passengers who are eligible for such an exemption under the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Srivastava said.