Over 350 Indians were brought back to the country in two special Air India flights from the UAE late on Friday. The special Air India Express aircraft with 356 Indian nationals, including three infants, landed in Chennai around midnight, they added.
All the passengers were screened and tested for COVID-19 on their arrival at the Chennai International Airport.
Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar confirmed the development in a tweet.
Glad to welcome returning Indians frm Dubai.Two AI Express flights hv arrived in Chennai tonight carrying 356 people.
– Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) May 8, 2020
They were later placed under quarantine as per the guidelines.
Passengers have been offered the option of free government quarantine or a paid hotel quarantine, government officials said.
The Indian expatriate community of approximately 3.42 million is reportedly the largest ethnic community in the UAE constituting roughly about 30 per cent of the country’s population, according to information available on the Indian embassy website.
The Indian returnees have been short-listed from a database of more than 2,00,000 applicants, who include around 6,500 pregnant women, news agency Press Trust of India quoted Neeraj Agrawal, Consul, Press, Information and Culture at the Indian consulate in Dubai, as saying.
Air India will operate 64 flights between May 7 and May 13 under the massive repatriation programme to bring back around 15,000 Indian nationals stranded abroad due to the lockdown.
India imposed a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country, grounding all international flights since mid-March. Under the repatriation plan, the government will be facilitating the return of Indian nationals stranded abroad on compelling grounds in a phased manner.
With inputs from PTI