After the Kerala Assembly passed a resolution on Thursday against the decision of the Union government to bar NRIs in Italy and South Korea from travelling to India without a negative Covid-19 certificate, the Minister of State For External Affairs V Muraleedharan clarified that it was not a newly-introduced norm but an existing pre-requisite for all evacuations in such cases.
He said, “In the first evacuation from China also, only people who tested negative for COVID-19 were flown in. The Chinese officials had themselves tested the Indians and allowed only COVID negative people to board. In spite of the checks by China, the people who arrived from the country were placed in quarantine here.”
Muraleedharan added that the negative Covid-19 certificate is a safety measure that ensures that people who are evacuated are not exposed to the deadly virus. He informed that local health authorities were unable to test Indian citizens stranded in Italy and as such the Centre had sent a special medical team to the country. The Minister of State For External Affairs also highlighted that the special flight to Italy would evacuate 250 Indians in the first phase.
The contentious resolution was passed by a voice vote in the Kerala Assembly while the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition staged a walkout over another issue. The motion was moved by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan himself. He called the decision of the Centre to ask for a negative Covid-19 certificate as “fundamentally inhuman” and “cruel abandonment.” Vijayan said, “We can vet them for the virus and treat them in our country if necessary.”
Slamming the Kerala Government, Muraleedharan reiterated, “When the country faces an issue, it is not required that each Assembly passes a resolution. The Government of India is handling the matter and Parliament which is in session has been informed about the steps taken by the Centre. Whether the state assembly passes a resolution or not, the Ministry of External Affairs will continue doing its job.” Muraleedharan also dubbed the contentious resolution as “political posturing” that was not aimed at genuine redressal of grievances.
Earlier, the Kerala Chief Minister in an address to media informed that six more cases had been identified on Tuesday and that the total confirmed cases of coronavirus had reached a mark of 12 in the state of Kerala. The Government had requested cinema halls to stop their operations for the time being. Pinarayi Vijayan also requested people to refrain from attending public functions, festivals and weddings. He also suggested the devotees to avoid visiting the Sabarimala shrine which is opening for monthly poojas on Thursday.