CM seeks testing facility abroad for NoRKs

Pinarayi says govt. cannot ignore larger community’s concerns

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to instruct Indian embassies in foreign countries to provide non-resident Keralites (NoRKs) means to test themselves for COVID-19 infection before boarding flights home.

Mr. Vijayan’s latest letter to Mr. Modi came against the backdrop of Opposition’s criticism that the government had broken its promise to non-resident Keralites left in the lurch in epidemic-hit countries.

The United Democratic Front had slammed the government for “unfairly” ordering NoRKs seeking to return home on chartered flights to present a medical testimonial proving that they were COVID-19 free to authorities at the point of departure.

Mr. Vijayan said the government supported the mission to bring “pravasis” home. However, it could not make the larger community vulnerable to a new wave of infections.

The Chief Minister said it was pertinent to note that 53 persons out of the 85 who had tested COVID-19 positive on June 13 were recent arrivals.

A senior official told The Hindu that new arrivals accounted for 85% of the COVID-19 positive cases in Kerala.

The State could restrict transmission through contact with returnees to less than 11% of the total number of cases.

However, the situation was perilous. Several airlines and organisations had scheduled 800 flights to Kerala from abroad. An estimated one lakh emigrants would arrive in the State soon. Kerala could not discount the threat of transmission from asymptomatic arrivals, the official said.

In his letter, Mr. Vijayan appeared to echo the concerns raised by the Opposition. He said emigrants found it expensive and trying to get themselves tested in their countries. Some nations were reluctant to test persons who were not overtly symptomatic. Test results were often delayed.

Indian embassies should financially assist those who could not afford the check-ups. The Chief Minister said he hoped the Centre would send the missions adequate test kits.

Mr. Vijayan said if PCR test was not possible, the authorities should conduct a rapid test on inbound passengers.

He also suggested separate flights for passengers who had tested positive for the virus. Mr. Vijayan was likely to raise the matter with Mr. Modi during their video conference on Tuesday.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 9:30:43 PM |

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