Registration for Keralites wishing to return begins
April 27 2020 12:06 AM
Registration for Keralites wishing to return begins
Registration for Keralites wishing to return begins


The Kerala government on Sunday launched a website where non-resident Keralites wishing to return from abroad must register.

The registration has to be done on of the state-run Norka-Roots, the official department handling NRK affairs.

The move follows a plan under consideration by the central government to bring back Indian expatriates.

Of an estimated 2.5mn non-resident Keralites, 90% are in the Middle East countries, and its is expected that 300,000-500,000 would likely return when flights resume.

According to a Norka-Roots statement, the registration is to help the state government make arrangements for the isolation and quarantine of returnees, and not for preference in airline seat allotment.

It said all those arriving will be screened. While those with no Covid-19 symptoms will be allowed home isolation, others will be quarantined under the present medical guidelines.

According to the state government, various hostels, hotels, halls, private hospitals with accommodation facilities as well as floating houseboats at Alappuzha are ready to house them.

Sunday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan asked authorities in all 14 districts to increase daily Covid-19 tests from 500 to 3,000.

Addressing officials through video link, the chief minister said more testing kits would be provided and all those who were in quarantine - symptomatic or asymptomatic - should be tested.

He asked police to strongly enforce a nationwide lockdown, but said it shouldn't cause any excess and the people must be treated with a humane face.

The chief minister said a lot of people could return from the Middle East and all arrangements should be made for that.

Vijayan asked districts that borders Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to keep vigil.

In other developments, the opposition Congress asked the chief minister to tell what the state had gained by sharing its coronavirus data with then US firm Sprinklr.

Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala told reporters Vijayan and his party seemed to be celebrating claiming that the Kerala High Court has given them an all-clear signal in the handing over of the data to company.

"Nothing of that sort has happened and instead have accepted all our fears, which included secrecy and privacy of data, taking informed consent of patients, and anonymity of all personal information. The court has clearly said had it been normal circumstances, it would have taken a different position but given the need to take urgent steps to prevent Covid-19 spread, it is not doing so. We want Vijayan to tell us what has Kerala gained by giving the data to Sprinklr," said Chennithala.

The Congress leader said only an interim order had come from the court.

"You just wait and see, the court will look into all the explanations that the Vijayan government has given; so we will wait for the final verdict," he said.

"Vijayan was very contemptuous when our senior legislator V D Sateeshan pointed out to a report from a state government agency which had said that 80% of Kerala's population might get affected by Covid-19. Vijayan turned very critical of Sateeshan and admonished him. But in court, the government submitted the very same findings," added the Congress leader.

On Friday, after hearing various petitioners in the controversial transfer of Covid-19 patient data by the Kerala government to Sprinklr, the court refused to stay the agreement and gave a number of directions to the state, saying all safeguards regarding data privacy be maintained.

Vijayan later assured the court that his government's stand was always that the data will be protected.

>>A special aircraft of Swiss International Airlines took off from Kochi late Saturday night with 164 passengers for Zurich, officials said on Sunday.

Besides 115 Swiss citizens, the flight carried tourists from Germany, Austria, Norway, Denmark and France.

Most of the passengers were stuck in Kochi, while the others were brought in from neighboring states.

This is the fourth flight that repatriated tourists from Kerala to Europe since aviation services were closed on March 23 to contain spread of Covid-19 disease.

Sebastien Hug, the Swiss Consul-General in Bangaluru, oversaw the repatriation mission along with Syed Ibrahim, Germany's honorary consul in Thiruvananthapuram.

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