An Air India plane is parked at Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi.
Money Sharma/AFP via Getty Image
More than 2,800 people have joined a Facebook group looking to evacuate Indian nationals from the US to India.
But India won’t let people return on commercial flights because of the lockdown put in place to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
India, which has had 5,365 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,152 deaths from the virus, has a strict lockdown in place until May 3, and it’s unclear when commercial travel will be allowed again.
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More than 2,800 Indians are looking to be evacuated from the US back to India, but they can’t get flights home because of India’s coronavirus lockdown.
More than 2,800 people have joined a Facebook group called “USA TO INDIA EVACUATION FLIGHTS,” where members have joined together, petitioning the Indian Embassy in the US to send them home.
The Indian Embassy to the US, however, told the group that there would be no flights to India until the country lifts its lockdown put in place to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, CNN reported.
India, which has a population of 1.343 billion people, has had 35,365 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,152 deaths from the virus, according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University.
The country has been on lockdown since March, and its current phase is expected to last until May 3. The lockdown has closed all nonessential businesses, public transportation, and international travel on commercial flights. According to The BBC, it was one of the first countries to put heavy travel restrictions in place.
The Facebook group of stranded Indians includes students, travelers on tourist visas, people who have lost their work visas, and more, CNN reported. Many of them are trying to get home for relatives’ funerals and medical treatments.
Some have considered taking private jets. But the costs, they told CNN, would be upwards of $70,000 per person.
Bindu Manjunath, who’s undergoing a series of treatments to address her stage-four liver cancer diagnoses, says she needs to get home to India for medical treatment. She told CNN the costs of the US healthcare system were prohibitive.
“I had finished all my tests before leaving for the US, (and) a small tumor is still inside (me),” she told CNN. “I really have to get back to continue my treatment — any treatment here would be a burden on my family.”
It remains unclear when India will allow international travel again. CNN reported that the Foreign Ministry is working with Indian states on bringing residents back from other countries.
The Facebook group’s founder, Michael Khanna, told CNN he’s hopeful people will get back to India sooner rather than later.
“We are hoping at the minimum, the critical cases get evacuated first. Authorities are listening … all we need is a small window to travel back,” he said.
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