Thiruvananthapuram: Expatriates taking flights back to Kerala without COVID-19 tests would have to undergo rapid antibody testing upon arrival at the state airports from Thursday. Those coming from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait without tests will have to wear PPE kits on-board flights.
The Pinaray Vijayan-led government has been insisting on coronavirus negative tests reports from expats before boarding the flights.
The government said the move is to ensure the safety of passengers as there are many in the vulnerable group and there is a risk of transmission when people sit next to each other in flights.
The Opposition had criticised the move and also held protests stating that the government is not interested in bringing back its citizens working abroad.
Vijayan said that some are trying to some people with vested interests were trying to portray the government is against bringing home non-resident Malayalis.
"The Kerala government has not stopped any flight from coming to the state. Our stand right from the beginning was that all expats wanting to come back should be brought back. Today itself, permission was given for 72 flights to land in Kerala. As many as 14,058 people will return via these flights. Except one, all these flights were from Gulf countries," the chief minister said.
As part of the new guidelines, in places where there are tests available, expats should undergo the tests and carry certificate and register in the Covid-19 Jagratha site.
Vijayan said, "For all those who cannot do tests before boarding flights, they will undergo rapid antibody tests upon arrival in airports. If the antibody tests show positive results, they will have to undergo RTPCR, trunet or gene tests. Whatever the results of these tests, everyone coming from abroad should undergo 14-day quarantine." Measures will be taken to discard the PPE kits, gloves and mask safely at the airport, he added.
Kerala reported 152 COVID-19 positive cases on Wednesday, the highest single-day spike so far, pushing the infection count to 3,603 while
over 1.50 lakh people were under observation.
This includes 144 returnees from abroad and other states as the tally crossed the 3,600-mark in the southern state. This is the sixth straight day that the state has witnessed over 100 positive cases.