The Indian government has advised expats in the UAE and the Gulf against travel till flight curbs to their home country are lifted. This follows the clamour from some quarters for special repatriation flights to India.A senior Indian External Affairs Ministry (foreign ministry) official said Indian citizens are safe in the countries they reside in. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken to leaders of Gulf countries who assured him of their welfare, the Indian foreign ministry said. Meanwhile, the Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan,, according to a Malayalam news report, also ruled out special flights. Responding to a question from Khaleej Times on blue-collar workers' angst following job losses, Vikas Swarup, Secretary West in the foreign ministry said, "Insofar as repatriation is concerned, as you are aware, government has advised against all travel, and Indians have been told to stay where they are, As and when the (21-day) lockdown is lifted, and normal civil aviation resumes, Indians wishing to come back will be able to do so."According to the latest data from the Indian foreign affairs ministry, there are 1,400 cases of Covid-19 infections among Indian expats in the Gulf region.
Swarup said infected Indians are being treated and kept in isolation in the UAE and Gulf. "Our missions have established contact with all the community leaders and the situation is under control," he said.
Cargo flights operating as usualCargo flights carrying fruits and vegetables from India to the Gulf have not been disrupted and would continue as usual, the diplomat said. "We are also helping with medicines based on the requests of Gulf countries," he said.Eight million India expats live in the Gulf, including close to three million in the UAE. They account for more than 60 per cent of remittances to their home country.India's long lockdown of 21 says ends next Tuesday. Indications are that it could be extended. Some states like Orissa have already stretched it till the end of the month and others are expected to follow suit.The government believes that the disease is now concentrated in 75 districts, and the focus should be on these areas to manage and contain the virus. -