Vande Bharat Flights From UK Suspended Due to New Covid-19 Strain: MEA

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The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday that India has temporarily suspended its Vande Bharat Mission flights from the United Kingdom due to the emergence of the new strain of Covid-19 found in the UK.

MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said on Thursday that due to the emergence of the new variant of the virus in the UK, flights operating under the Vande Bharat Mission to and from the country have been temporarily suspended.

“Phase 8 Plus of this mission is currently operational since December 1. Under this phase, 1005 flights have been operated from 27 countries facilitating an estimated 1.8 lakh people. In terms of numbers, as of December 22, more than 40 lakh people have been facilitated under the Vande Bharat Mission,” Srivastava said during a press briefing on Thursday.

“Due to emerging COVID-19 situation and the ensuing travel restrictions, there has been a temporary suspension of Vande Bharat flights from the UK,” he added.

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When asked about speculations surrounding the UK PM Boris Johnson’s visit to India on Republic Day as chief guest, Shrivastava replied in affirmative and confirmed that the British PM will be attending the Republic Day ceremonies at New Delhi on January 26. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson informed the public about the new COVID-19 strain on December 2 and imposed a harsher lockdown to contain the spread on Saturday.

Boris Johnson announced the stricter curbs in the southeast of the country, where the new strain is being frequently detected among people.

The lockdown is expected to last until December 31 following which the government will revisit all evidence and decide further arrangements. 

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Vande Bharat Mission

Earlier, the Indian government had suspended all flights to and from the United Kingdom until December 31 due to the newly-found virus variant in the country.

Now, flights operating under the Vande Bharat Mission from the UK have also been suspended. Vande Bharat Mission was started by the Indian government back in May to evacuate Indians stuck in foreign countries due to lockdowns imposed by the local authorities. 

As per Shrivastava, under the mission, the Indian government has so far evacuated more than 40 lakh people from 27 countries.

Shrivastava said that the government is currently running Phase 8 Plus of the mission since December 1, under which 1,005 flights have operated as of December 22.

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In December alone, the government has assisted 1.8 lakh Indians from foreign nations. India is currently operating flights under the program from countries, including the United States, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Cambodia, etc.

(Source: ANI)


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