The Tamil Nadu, May 15, 2020 : government, which is combating Covid pandemic, is grappling with a related movement of people stranded by air and by train, adding to its burden of screening and testing them.
A special train from New Delhi on Thursday night brought to Chennai over 1,000 residents of Tamil Nadu who got stranded after the lockdown led to suspension of train and air services on March 22. To balance it out, the Tamil Nadu facilitated the outward movement of stranded migrant workers and 950 of them left Chennai Central by a special train to New Delhi on Friday morning.
As part of an ongoing exercise, a special train from Katpadi left for Ranchi on Friday with 1,345 migrant workers and stranded patients who came to Vellore Christian Medical College for treatment of various ailments. This was the first such special train to run between Katpadi and Ranchi.
As the lockdown is set to enter the fourth phase from May 17 till month-end, the Tamil Nadu Government itself has arranged trains to take migrant workers home. It has also issued special passes to buses hired by private associations of Rajasthani and other NGOs to help them go back.
Meanwhile, two special Air India flights brought to Chennai over 500 stranded Indians from Manila and London on Thursday night and Friday morning, the air customs said.
The Manila flight brought in 110 men and 57 women. The London flight brought in 333 passengers—202 men, 126 and five children.
After screening for fever, they were sent to quarantine facilities on the college campus and designated hotels where they will be kept for the next fortnight.
So far eight evacuation flights have landed in Chennai, bringing in stranded Indians from Oman, Dubai, Kuwait and elsewhere.
Air India has already opened reservation counters for flights in the second phase which will go on till June.
Only on Thursday, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami said that Air Indian Express flights scheduled to bring similarly stranded Indians from the US, Singapore, the Philippines and Bangladesh and the Philippines as part of the Centre’s Vande Bharat mission would be diverted to Tiruchi from Chennai as the city is facing a high incidence of Covid.
According to Government statistics, nine non-resident Indians who came to Chennai in evacuation flights have tested positive. Likewise, over 50 who came in special trains to Chennai have tested positive. They included 22 from Maharashtra.
The Government of Tamil Nadu has announced exemption from quarantine for pregnant women, those above 75 and the terminally ill who may need immediate hospitalisation.
It has also said those coming from abroad to attend funerals of a family member will not be quarantined on arrival, provided the mortal remains are also brought in the same plane.