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New Delhi, May 5, 2020
The Indian Navy has launched Operation “Samudra Setu” -- meaning “Sea Bridge”, as a part of the government's efforts to repatriate Indian nationals stranded abroad during the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
An official press release said that Indian Naval Ships Jalashwa and Magar are presently enroute to the port of Male in the Maldives to commence evacuation of Indians from there on May 8 as part of Phase 1 of the operations/
"The Government has been closely monitoring the situation with respect to effect of COVID-19 pandemic on our citizens abroad. The Indian Navy has been directed to make suitable preparations for their evacuation by sea," the release said.
It said the Indian mission in the Maldives is preparing a list of Indian nationals to be evacuated by naval ships and will facilitate their embarkation after requisite medical screening. A total of 1,000 persons are planned to be evacuated during the first trip, catering for COVID- related social distancing norms vis-a-vis the carrying capacity and medical facilities available onboard.
The ships have been suitably provisioned for the evacuation operation. The evacuated personnel would be provided the basic amenities and medical facilities during the sea-passage. In view of the unique challenges associated with COVID-19 stringent protocols have also been stipulated.
The evacuated personnel will be disembarked at Kochi in Kerala and entrusted to the care of State authorities. This operation is being progressed in close coordination with Ministries of Defence, External Affairs, Home Affairs, Health and various other agencies of the Government of India and State governments, the release added.