The government on Monday said it would facilitate the return of Indians stranded abroad, and that the process would begin from May 7 in a phased manner.
In a statement, the Home Ministry said only asymptomatic people would be allowed to travel and it would be arranged by aircraft and naval ships, and the facility will be available on a payment basis.
After their arrival in India, medical examination will be conducted on everyone and they will be subsequently put under quarantine for 14 days, either in a hospital or in an institutional facility, the ministry said.
India recorded more than 2,000 cases on Monday — the third straight day of a 2,000-plus addition — taking the total close to 43,000, according to data from the health ministry. The death toll touched 1,389.
“This is a geometric progression... We have increased our doubling time to 12 days and have to improve this further,” said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, health ministry. Fresh cases on Monday reached a record high of 2,573 and 88 deaths in a single day. So far, 11,762 patients have been cured, taking the recovery rate to 27.5 per cent.
“We are transitioning to a new normal... Protocols of social distancing have to be followed,” Agarwal said.
There are 112 districts accounting for 22 per cent of the total population, which have reported only 610 cases. “These are aspirational districts that account for less than 2 per cent of the national Covid count,” said Amitabh Kant, chairperson of the empowered group on NGOs and private and international organisations.
India has carried out more than 60,000 tests since Sunday evening, taking the total number of tests to 1,107,233, says Indian Council of Medical Research data. There are, at present, 426 labs available for testing, of which 111 are private and the remaining, government. Kant said that around 30,000 RT-PCR test kits were donated to India by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with 70,000 coming from Temasek Foundation. He said over 92,000 NGOs and civil society organisations were mobilised to provide food to migrant labourers and the homeless population, and to build Covid-related awareness among communities in the last few weeks.
A press statement by the NITI Aayog also said Aarogya Setu was the “world’s fastest-growing mobile application, with more than 90 million installations on the Google Play Store, just days after its launch.”