The government on Thursday, 2 April, allowed transit arrangements for stranded foreign nationals and also evacuation of those foreigners who arrived in India post-February 15 after their quarantine period and tested coronavirus negative, officials said.
The Centre said only those foreign nationals who are asymptomatic to COVID-19 would be allowed to leave.
In an order, the Home Ministry said the decisions have been taken exercising the powers conferred under the Disaster Management Act.
According to the order, the home ministry allowed transit arrangements for foreign nationals, who are currently in India, and release of quarantined people who have arrived in India after February 15, after expiry of their quarantine period and tested COVID-19 negative.
The home ministry said it has been brought to its notice that a number of foreign nationals are stranded in different parts of the country due to the lockdown measures. Some foreign countries have approached the government for evacuation of their nationals.
In view of these, it has now been decided that requests received from foreign governments for evacuation of their nationals from India would be examined by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on case-to-case basis, the order said.
In cases where such requests are endorsed by MEA, the following protocol would be observed: the chartered flight would be arranged by the foreign government concerned in consultation with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and prior to departure the foreign nationals would be screened for COVID-19 symptoms according to standard health protocol.
In case of symptomatic persons, the future course of treatment would be followed, as per the standard health protocol, the home ministry said.
It said local transportation arrangements from the place of stay of the foreign nationals to the point of embarking would be arranged by the local embassy/consulate of the respective foreign government.
The transit pass for movement of the vehicle deployed for the foreign nationals would be issued by the government of the state/ union territory where they are staying. The transit pass, as issued above, would be honoured/ allowed by the authorities of the state/union territories along the transit route.
The ministry also issued a Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the release of quarantined persons after expiry of quarantine period and tested COVID-19 negative.
With a view to preventing the spread of coronavirus and as a measure of abundant precaution, people returning from foreign locations after 15 February had been quarantined in government/ government-arranged facilities.
In respect of these persons, the following protocol would be observed after completion of the specified mandatory quarantine period.
People testing negative for COVID-19, and as per standard health protocol, would be released from the said quarantine facilities.
However, this will not apply to a group where even one person tests positive for COVID-19.
These people are expected to return to their homes, or to the homes of their families/ relatives/ friends or to other places of shelter like hotels, etc., by making their own transport arrangements.
The transit pass for movement of vehicles being used by such persons will be issued by the government of the state/ union territory where they have been quarantined. The transit pass will be issued for fixed route and with specified validity and such persons shall follow the same.
The transit pass, as issued above, would be honoured/ allowed by the authorities of the state/ union territories along the transit route.
As a measure of abundant caution, upon returning to their destination, such persons would home quarantine themselves for a further period of 14 days as per standard protocol on the matter.
Details of those released from quarantine, along with their destination, will be shared with the state/UT government concerned for necessary follow up.
The 21-day lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 March in a bid to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
(The article has been published in arrangement with PTI)
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