Opposition slams order on negative medical certificate

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala on Saturday said the State government had broken faith with the Keralite diaspora by insisting that those seeking to return home from abroad on chartered flights should produce a medical testimonial that they were COVID-19 negative.

Mr. Chennithala said the ‘strange decision’ was against the spirit of the unanimous resolution adopted by the Assembly on March 12.

In a gesture of political bipartisanship, the treasury and opposition benches had unanimously condemned a Central government order, which insisted that only persons with COVID-19 negative certificate could travel to India from Italy and South Korea, both pandemic hotspots.

The State had said it had received students from Wuhan in China, widely considered to be the origin of the pandemic, and successfully quarantined and treated them.

The Assembly had in one voice demanded the Centre to repeal the biased order.

Chartered flights

In the aftermath of the resolution, thousands of Keralites had left the Gulf for their home State. To make up for the lack of flights, several Malayali associations based in the Gulf came forward to hire chartered flights to send home pregnant women, children, aged citizens and those who had lost their jobs.

However, the government had scuttled the yeoman service undertaken by Non-Resident Keralite (NoRK) organisations.

In a letter to P.V. Radhakrishnan Pillai, president, the Bahrain Keraleeya Samajam, K. Elangovan, Principal Secretary, Industries and NORKA Department, said that only COVID-19 negative passengers could travel to Kerala.

The condition applied to flights scheduled from June 20 onwards.

Not applicable

The order did not apply to trips planned earlier than the date.

Mr. Chennithala said the condition set by the State government did not apply to Vande Bharat Mission flights operated by the Centre.

He said it was almost impossible for passengers to procure a medical certificate stating they were COVID-19 free 48 hours before boarding the flight.

Mr. Chennithala said passengers arriving on chartered flights should be treated the same way as other arrivals and put through the pandemic control protocol.

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has also slammed the order. The party said it had discriminated against those fleeing the pandemic in the Gulf.

Govt. clarification

A government official clarified that the State was constrained to issue such an order because arrivals had contributed majorly to the increase in COVID-19 caseload in Kerala.

An estimated 2,20,000 persons had arrived in Kerala from within the country and abroad. Roughly 64% of them were from COVID-19 ‘red zones.’

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 12:48:14 AM |

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