The airport authorities have earmarked the old domestic terminal building to house fliers returning from abroad until state agencies figure out where to quarantine them, officials said on Thursday.
The decision follows a fiasco over fliers from Malaysia who refused to go to any paid quarantine centre after landing at the airport around 7pm on Tuesday and, instead, headed home. The passengers, who are labourers and had no income over the past few months because of the Covid-19 pandemic, sat on the floor in the arrival section for close to seven hours before they were allowed to leave early on Wednesday.
“In view of yesterday’s incident, a decision has been taken that the evacuation passengers can be kept on hold for some time inside the old domestic terminal building till the formalities of all passengers of the arrival evacuation flight are complete,” an internal communication by the airport authorities reads.
On arrival at the new integrated terminal, the passengers will be transported to the old domestic terminal building by bus, escorted by the state police.
The old domestic building is no longer in use. Last month, the building had been handed over to the health department for setting up of a free quarantine facility for passengers returning from abroad. The health department later took the beds away as the plan was shelved.
“We have asked the state health department to take such passengers to the old domestic building and sort out the problem. If they stay in the new terminal building for several hours without maintaining social distance, it causes safety hazards,” an airport official said on Thursday.
The Telegraph reported on Thursday the fiasco over 140 passengers from Malaysia and also how 143 passengers from Kyrgyzstan headed home from the airport, instead of going to a paid quarantine facility, on Friday last week.
The labourers and the fliers from Kyrgyzstan, most of whom are medical students, said they had run out of money.
The state government, in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, has made it mandatory for all people returning from abroad to spend a week at a paid quarantine centre before going home.
On Thursday, state government officials said they had started the process of contacting each of the 283 persons and sending them to quarantine facilities.
“The police, with help of the health department, will contact each of the passengers. Necessary actions are being taken,” said a state government official. If required, he said, the passengers and their contacts will be tested for Covid-19.