Coronavirus outbreak: Indians stranded in Italy send SOS calls as they fail to procure mandatory certificate declaring them COVID-19-free

Reportedly, several citizens are stuck at Rome's Fiumicino airport after the government has made it mandatory for people to provide a certificate declaring them coronavirus free.

FP Staff March 11, 2020 21:44:11 IST
Coronavirus outbreak: Indians stranded in Italy send SOS calls as they fail to procure mandatory certificate declaring them COVID-19-free
  • Indian citizens currently stuck in Italy have sent out an SOS message via social media to the Indian Embassy and Government of India

  • Reportedly, several citizens are stuck at Rome's Fiumicino airport after the government has made it mandatory for people to provide a certificate declaring them coronavirus free

Indian citizens currently stranded in Italy have sent out an SOS message via social media to the Indian Embassy and the Government of India. Reportedly, several citizens are stuck at Rome's Fiumicino airport after the government made it mandatory for people to provide a certificate declaring them coronavirus free.

Janice Pariat, an Indian poet and writer, put out the message through her Facebook account. She claims that Indians are unable to procure the mandatory certificate in Italy and hence were unable to board the Alitalia flight to New Delhi.

"We are stuck at the airport, with no help from the Indian embassy in Rome nor from India. We need to contact someone at the health ministry in New Delhi, India, so they can do the needful as soon as possible. Our flight leaves in an hour. Help," she wrote in a message posted almost an hour ago.

Hindustan Times also quoted SOS messages which claim that close to 200 people are stranded at Milan and Rome airports as they are either unaware that medical certificates are required, or are unable to procure them.

"We are being treated as smugglers. People have commented on the video put up on Facebook asking us why we want to come back to Kerala. Many came to the airport without knowing that a certificate would be required for them to travel. The airport authorities say that India was not ready to receive us... We are sitting at a corner of the airport in freezing temperatures. It is just like an isolation ward. The central government should give us the certificate to enable us to return," the newspaper quoted Hima, a woman from Kerala, as saying.

Following this, the Union government has said that it will send a team of doctors to Italy to collect their test samples for coronavirus test before they are brought back.

A team of four doctors — two microbiologists and two public health specialists — from the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) — will leave for Rome on Thursday night. The officials said the Indian Embassy in Italy has contacted Indian students in the country and asked them to reach to a designated venue where their samples would be collected.
Over 300 Indian students are in Italy at present, an official told PTI.

The news comes day after Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had raised a similar concern with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Vijayan on Wednesday termed as "uncivilised" the
Centre's circular barring the return of Indians from coronavirus-hit countries such as Italy unless they produce a certificate that proves they have tested negative for the virus.

"How can we say that an Indian citizen cannot come back to India just because he is infected? Barring our citizens from coming to the country is an uncivilised attitude," Vijayan told the Assembly.

The Kerala chief minister had also shot off a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri to withdraw the circular and bring back the Indians stranded in the airport despite having booked tickets.

In his letter to Modi, Vijayan said the foreign authorities were not ready to test people without symptoms as they were already overloaded with patients.

"We are receiving information that many Indians are stranded in airports in Italy as they are not able to board flights to cities in India without this certificate. The certificates has been made mandatory irrespective of whether these travellers have symptoms or not," Vijayan said.

On 5 March, the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had issued a travel advisory asking those arriving in the country from coronavirus-affected Italy and South Korea to procure a certificate showing them having tested negative for the deadly virus. The advisory came into force on 10 March and is a temporary measure till cases of COVID-19 subside, the government had said in a statement on Monday.

The ciruclar stipulated that people "travelling from or having visited Italy or South Korea" and desirous of entering India "need to obtain certificates of having tested negative for COVID-19" from the designated laboratories authorised by the health authorities of those countries.

So far, India has evacuated 948 passengers from COVID-19-affected countries. Out of these, 900 are Indian citizens and 48 belonging to countries like Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh, China, USA, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa and Peru, it said.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date:

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