Kerala makes COVID testing mandatory for passengers arriving via chartered flights
Dubai: Kerala will make COVID-19 certificates mandatory for expatriates returning to the state via chartered flights. This will be put into effect from June 20. Kerala demands an examination report done within 48 hours of the journey.
This is being done as lot of foreign returnees are turning out to be COVID positive. State government found out that three percent of the expatriates are carriers of the virus. Principal Secretary K Ellangovan stated that if this is allowed to continue, it would lead to community transmission in the state and that is why examinations are going to be made stricter in the state. However, obtaining this certificate from countries other than UAE is very difficult.
In countries like Bahrain, COVID testing will be done only for those with symptoms. In certain countries, even private hospitals do not even have sufficient testing facilities. A COVID test can cost between Rs 8000 to Rs 10,000. This is a big setback for Keralites who have lost their jobs or do not have enough money to spare.
Airports have started conducting rapid tests currently. But Kerala demands test reports from recognised labs within 48 hours of the journey. Various organisatio9ns have arranged for more then 400 chartered flights in the Gulf region itself. It is not sure how many people will be able to travel with the new conditions in place.
Certain Gulf countries have reported COVID cases up to 6 percent of their total population. The new demand was mentioned by the Kerala government in the reply given to Bahrain Kerala Samajam President, who had applied for an NOC for chartered flights. He had sent a letter stating that this was not practical in Bahrain and that a lot of Keralites were ready to be repatriated to Kerala. In reply to this, government stated that the condition will not be implemented until June 20.
The letter also mentioned that charge for chartered flights should be close to the amount levied from flights carrying out Vande Bharat Mission. However, since chartered flights were not ready to operate at that price, most passengers had to pay more money for their seats.