While Nigeria is a part of the second tranche of Vande Bharat Mission, there has been no communication from the government regarding the repatriation as of yet.
A group of 200 people hailing from Kerala, stranded in Nigeria due to the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdown announced by India, have been waiting for days for the Indian government to give a green light for their repatriation, The Indian Express has reported.
Cases of the viral infection have been rising quickly in West Africa, and Nigeria has reported over 6,000 cases and 194 deaths. The healthcare system in the country, too, is poor, according to the newspaper, and Indian expatriates in the country are thinking of returning.
This also comes amidst reports of scarcity of medical equipment and armed robberies in the country's north, according to the report.
"The general situation in Nigeria is very bad. About 61 percent of the cases being reported here have no epidemiological links which points to community transmission. Soon the cases will peak. The government’s isolation facilities are not satisfactory and the health system is not equipped to handle the pandemic," Dr Arun Gangadhar, who is the managing director of a hospital in Lagos, told the newspaper.
According to the report, among those who want to return include pregnant women, children, elderly with comorbidity and those whose visas have expired and people who have lost their jobs.
Moreover, many of those with underlying health conditions and the elderly are unwilling to take the risk of getting tested and treated in Nigeria.
"Every day, the threshold for sustainability is reducing," Dr Gangadhar said.
The report states that even while Nigeria is a part of the second tranche of Vande Bharat Mission, there has been no communication from the government regarding the repatriation as of yet. The group, according to the report, is thinking of flying home via a chartered flight they have arranged if the Indian government grants them the permission.
Dr Gangadhar said that they have managed to strike a deal with Air Peace airline, which is flying to Bengaluru and Delhi to rescue stranded Nigerians there. The airline, according to the report, has agreed to fly the group to Cochin if it gets a landing permit from the Indian authorities.
"We have handed over the letter of the airline to the Indian high commission for approval. They acknowledged the letter and said they will get back to us," Dr Gangadhar said, adding that copies of the letter have also been sent to Kerala health department, and a response is awaited.
Dr Gangadhar told the newspaper that protocols will be followed, and only those without any symptoms will be allowed to board. The report said that the group is ready to pay for the flight themselves and follow quarantine guidelines upon their return.