Despite working with limited manpower, Goa has in the past 10 days evacuated 2,963 adults and 31 infants from around the world who were left stranded due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Between March 25 and April 5, Goa airport has been busy with flights to Israel, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and Sweden.
Three more flights to England will take off this week, said Goa airport director Gagan Malik, who has his task set. The moment an aircraft takes off, airport staff get down to sanitisation of the entire terminal.
Despite all odds and skeletal staff on duty, the relief flights to Manchester and Moscow were handled well, he said. A few more of these special ferry flights are planned in the coming days.
To ensure the tourists are able to communicate with their families and co-ordinate for seats on relief flights, the Goa government has asked telecom providers to ensure that their SIM cards are active.
In order to make it easy to communicate with the stranded tourists, Goa Tourism reached out to telecommunication companies for help in this regard. The telecom service providers have been told to extend the validity of the mobile service till the visa extension is valid since these are extraordinary times. Tourists can make an application for this through email as well, Tourism Department officials said.
Last week, the government had announced new rules allowing flights to evacuate stranded foreigners and the release from quarantine of people who arrived in the country after February 15 and had tested negative for Covid-19.
The new rules, unveiled by the Home Ministry, followed restrictions imposed on all international flights and rules requiring the quarantine of all people entering India at government or private facilities.
Before their departure, the foreign nationals are screened for Covid-19 symptoms. Only those foreign nationals would be allowed to leave who are asymptomatic for Covid-19, according to the standard operating procedure for evacuation of foreigners.
Various consulates and embassies have been making arrangements for local transport to ferry their nationals to the airport and transit passes for such vehicles are issued by State governments.
Upon reaching their homes, these tourists will have to undergo home quarantine for 14 days.