COVID-19 negative certificates have been made mandatory for all passengers repatriated to Kerala from the Middle East from June 25.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the state government is in discussion with the airline companies and Embassies in various Gulf countries to make available the TrueNat COVID test kits for testing non-resident Keralites (NRKs) before they embark on their flight to India.

Among Gulf countries, only in Bahrain can people take COVID-19 testing. In Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar people are tested as per the protocol wherein only people with symptoms are tested highlighted the Chief Minister.

Kerala will give operational clearance only to airline companies and chartered flight operators which ferry COVID-19 positive and COVID-19 negative passengers on separate flights.

So far, 2,79,657 people have returned to Kerala from other states and abroad. Out of them, 1,172 were diagnosed with COVID-19. Of these 669 of the positive cases were in those who came back from foreign countries.

Albilad had earlier reported that Kerala Chief Minister last week urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to facilitate COVID-19 tests for stranded Indians getting repatriated through Indian mission from abroad.

The move comes days after the state came under fire from expatriates and opposition parties for making the certificate mandatory.

Health Minister K. K. Shailaja told media that the state introduced the rule to protect the health of the returning expats, she added.