Several Indians from Kerala have been prevented from boarding their flights from Italy to India after a new provision requiring a ‘NO COVID 19’ certificate came into effect on Tuesday.
Several Keralites working in Italy have flooded the social media with desperate appeals to the Indian authorities to allow them to board their flights.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs said passengers from Italy would need to produce a certificate for having tested negative for COVID 19 if they want to board a flight back to India.
“Please refer to the Min of Health Advisory,” he said. “They have been asked to provide a certificate before boarding the flight.”
Indeed, an advisory issued last Friday by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare does indeed say that such a certificate has to be produced to be allowed to board a flight.
Point No.4 of the advisory says: “In addition to the Visa restrictions already in place, passengers travelling from/having visited Italy or Republic of Korea and desirous of entering India will need a certificate of having tested negative for COVID-19 from the designated laboratories authorized by the health authorities of these countries. This will be enforced from 0000 Hrs of 10 March, 2020, and is a temporary measure till cases of COVID-19 subside.”
LACK OF AWARENESS
The Indian embassy of Rome has prominently displayed the travel advisory on its website.
However, many Indians who are arriving at the airport in Italy to board their flight seem to be unaware of the new rule.
In one of the videos sent out by a team of Keralites in an Italian airport, the passengers can be heard complaining that the Indian government has sent an email to Italian authorities not to allow people to board their flights.
“We are standing at check-in. The Italian government is not allowing us to board, saying the Indian government won’t allow the flights to land. Where are we supposed to go now,” asks one passenger in a widely-shared video.
“If you tell us on the spot, what will we do,” asks another.
“We are ready to under go quarantine for 14 days or 28 days as required,” says another. “Does Kerala needs its overseas workers only to raise funds in times of flood,” asks another.
The videos have elicited mixed reactions on social media, especially given that the Kerala government has put in place drastic emergency measures on Tuesday to deal with the fallout of a visit by a three-member non-resident Indian family from Italy to the state in the first week of March.
The three people are estimated to have come into contact with an estimated 300 people, out of which 58 people are reported to have had close contact with them. Five out of the 58 have already tested positive for the virus, as have the aged parents of the visitors.
A total of 1,116 people have been put under observation in the state, following the detection of the case.