335 stranded citizens arrived in Kerala on Friday night from Riyadh and Bahrain  Credit: Facebook 

Kochi: A total of 335 stranded Indian citizens arrived in Kerala in two special flights from the Gulf nations late on Friday night. The major evacuation is part of the country’s Vande Bharat Mission to bring back the stranded citizens in various countries owing to the unprecedented rise of COVID-19 pandemic.

As per reports, national air carrier Air India carrying 153 passengers mainly consists of stranded migrant workers and medical cases arrived at the Kozhikode Airport from Riyadh at 8 pm at night. Among those who landed include 84 pregnant women, 22 children and four infants with medical conditions.

Those passengers who needed special health care would be shifted to Manjeri and Kozhikode medical college hospitals for further observation, reports said.

This was the first flight from Saudi Arabia for evacuation of Indian nationals owing to COVID-19 lockdown globally. The next scheduled flight is rom Riyadh to Delhi on May 10, followed by a flight from Damman to Kochi on May 12 and another two more flights from Jeddah to destinations in Kerala later in the week, as per a statement issued by the Embassy of India in Riyadh.

Moreover, another Air India Express flight with 177 stranded passengers, including five infants, from Bahrain landed at Kochi airport at 11:32 pm on Friday.

Earlier, two flights had arrived from Abu Dhabi and Dubai at Kochi and Kozhikode airports, respectively, on Thursday carrying a total of 363 passengers.

Upon their arrival, all the passengers went through a mandatory thermal test at the aerobridge before allowing them to undergo customs and immigrations check as precautionary measure to keep check of further spread of the disease in the region, reports said.

Moreover, the evacuees also went through for COVID-19 rapid test at the airport itself before transferring them to their designated destinations by special taxis and KSRTC buses, it said.

India in its massive repatriation programme is planning to bring home as many as 15,000 stranded citizens from 12 countries by 64 flights in the first week of evacuation ‘Vande Bharat Mission’.

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