In further recognition to the health care sector of Kerala, several French nationals preferred to stay back in the state even as the French embassy and the government made arrangements for the foreign nationals stranded in Kerala to return.
While the French embassy had initially prepared a list of 127 nationals of their country stranded in Kerala and nine in Puducherry, only 112 had returned in the special flight operated by the Kochi international airport on April 4.
According to Kerala Tourism department officials, as many as 24 of them preferred to stay back as they felt safe to be in Kerala. Many of them were at Mata Amritanandamayi Ashram in Kollam district as well as some other ashrams in the state, while some of them were undergoing Ayurveda therapy’s. They were having valid visas and hence, there was no legal hurdle in them staying back here.
Kerala Tourism joint director K Raj Kumar said that arrangements were being made for the return of 250 odd UK nationals stranded in Kerala by April 15. A decision on return of seven UK nationals, who recovered from COVID-19, was still pending as they were still under the mandatory quarantine period. Around 210 Russian nationals in Kerala were also exploring the option of returning. Some persons from Switzerland would also be returning soon.
Already one flight to Germany with 236 tourists, which included around 200 German nationals and around 30 from some other European countries, had left from Thiruvananthapuram airport. A few tourists from countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Brazil left through other states.