Railways ferried over 2.5 lakh people stranded during lockdown in 222 special trains: MHA

New Delhi, May 8 (PTI) The railways has so far run 222 special trains to ferry over 2.5 lakh people, including migrant labourers, stranded in different of parts of the country due to the ongoing lockdown to check the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Friday.

Addressing a press conference, MHA Joint Secretary Punya Salila Srivastava said the government's efforts have been to give maximum relaxations to people within the lockdown guidelines.

As part of this endeavour, the government has started special trains to ferry stranded migrant labourers, students, pilgrims and tourists to their native places, she said, adding that 222 trains have so far carried over 2.5 lakh people.

She said the next step is to bring back Indians stranded abroad in a phased manner which started on Thursday using non-scheduled commercial flights and naval ships.

The INS Jalashwa will being its journey from Maldives with 700 passengers on Friday and will reach Kochi on May 10 night, she said.

A flight from Singapore with over 250 passengers and five more evacuation flights will land on Friday, she said.

Flights from Abu Dhabi to Kochi and Dubai to Kozhikode with 354 passengers have reached on Thursday, she said.

An Inter Ministerial Coordination Committee comprising officials from the ministries of Health, External Affairs, Home Affairs and Civil Aviation, and Armed Forces and Air India has been constituted to implement the standard operating procedure (SOP) for evacuation of stranded people to and from India, she said.

The committee will coordinate with state governments, she said.

'All stranded Indians can get registered at respective missions.... The travellers will be screened before boarding and only asymptomatic travellers will be allowed,' she said.

She said pregnant women, students, those with their visa expiring soon, and people facing medical emergencies will be given preference on these flights.

Before embarking on a flight, they will have to give an undertaking that they will be in compulsory institutional quarantine for 14 days on their own expense, she said.

The evacuees will have to register on Arogya Setu app and will undergo compulsory medical testing for COVID-19 upon arrival, she said.

If found positive for COVID-19, they will be taken to medical quarantine while the rest will undergo compulsory institutional quarantine for 14 days, she said.

A COVID-19 test will again be conducted after completion of 14 days institutional quarantine period, and the results will help decide further course of action as per medical protocol, she said.

The arrangements for institutional quarantines will be made by respective states and union territories and they will be provided with a list of arriving passengers by the Ministry of External Affairs, she said. PTI ABS SMN SMN