India is set to embarked on a "massive" operation involving naval ships and aircraft to bring back stranded Indian nationals stuck abroad due to coronavirus restrictions.
Indian citizens will be evacuated from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the UK, Malaysia, the US, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Singapore, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman in 64 scheduled flights in the first week, Hindustan Times reported.
Around 15,000 Indians stranded across the world are expected to be flown back to India in the first week from May 7 following the government's nod, according to the civil aviation ministry.
Indian government banned all incoming international flights in late March as it imposed one of the world's strictest virus lockdowns, leaving large numbers of workers and students stranded.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) plan shared with the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) that is set to begin from May 7, an approximate 15,000 passengers will be evacuated from 13 different countries, reported Khaleej Times.
Indian missions around the world have been registering citizens who were stranded when Covid-19-related travel restrictions were put in place by India and other countries, and those who want to return because they have lost their jobs or to meet their families.
At least 150,000 Indians have registered to return with the Indian missions in the UAE alone, with almost a quarter of them citing job losses as the reason for returning home.
A statement issued by the government on Monday said the "facility would be made available on payment-basis" and "travel would begin in a phased manner from May 7".
A standard operating protocol (SOP) has been prepared for the repatriation, the government has said. Upon arrival, passengers will have to fill a self-declaration form.
Medical screening of passengers would be done before they board a flight and only asymptomatic passengers would be allowed to travel. During the journey, all these passengers would have to follow the protocols, such as the health norms issued by the ministry of health and the ministry of civil aviation.
On reaching their destination in India, travellers will have to register on the Aarogya Setu app and undergo another medical screening.
"After scrutiny, they will be quarantined for 14 days, either in a hospital or in an institutional quarantine on payment-basis, by the concerned state government," the statement by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) had said on Monday.
India has suspended its domestic and international passenger flights till May 17 and there is no clear indication yet from the government on when they may resume.