Indians stranded in NZ still have to wait for some more time before heading home as the government begins repatriation of its citizens stranded abroad. 

The government on Monday, May 4 has announced that it will start evacuating Indian nationals stuck abroad due to Covid-19 lockdowns from Thursday, May 7.

Releasing a press statement on the issue, the government said, "Government of India will be facilitating the return of Indian nationals stranded abroad on compelling grounds in a phased manner."

Notably, the government of India has imposed an unprecedented travel ban and operation of any international commercial airlines since March 23 and the beginning of complete lockdown on March 24. 

Stranded Indian citizens will be brought back homes via aircraft and naval ships and a standard operating procedure has been created for the same.

According to an earlier draft proposal document sent to the Ministry of External Affairs, the Indians stranded in New Zealand, have been earmarked in a green zone, and therefore recommended to be evacuated in the first phase of repatriation. 

The green zone in the proposal document includes countries with only 1 per cent cases of detection of coronavirus infection out of the total number of testing done in their respective population.

(New Zealand is also accompanied with countries like Hong Kong (0.7 per cent), Australia (1.1 per cent) and Thailand (1.7 per cent). 

To give a perspective, India has 4 per cent, the United States has 16.7 per cent and the United Kingdom has 16.1 per cent, detected positive out of the total population been tested for the novel coronavirus. 

However, several media outlets have already reported quoting the local sources in New Delhi that the first phase of evacuation will begin from bringing Indian citizens from the United Arab Emirates.

More than 150,000 Indians in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have registered to fly home during the coronavirus pandemic, as per the latest figures with the e-registration launched by the Indian missions.

Meanwhile, the office of the Consulate General of India in Dubai had already issued a press release advising of two evacuation flights to the Indian state of Kerala. One flight will operate from Abu Dhabi to Kochi and the other from Dubai to Khozikhode. 

Citizens will have to pay for repatriation

The government has clarified that citizens will have to pay for the evacuation service.

The government has added that passengers will be medically screened before departure and only asymptomatic persons will be allowed to board flights.

Once the citizens land, they will have to download the Arogya Setu app and will go through another round of medical screening which will be followed by a 14-day quarantine period.

Quarantine facility will also be payment based

The quarantine facility will be payment-based and respective state governments will have to take responsibility for arranging for and managing the quarantine process and systems.

The Indian Weekender has approached the office of the Indian High Commission for a comment and a response was awaited at the time of publishing of this story.