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The Kerala government has prepared a protocol for the orderly return of expatriates once transport curbs are lifted, to prevent new covid-19 infections swamping its healthcare system.

This comes as an estimated 10% of Kerala’s 33 million population lives outside the state, especially in West Asia.

The state has formed a seven-member core panel of top officials to plan for the reverse migration. On Wednesday, the government said all returnees should register with Norka-Roots, the nodal government agency under its non-resident Keralites’ affairs (Norka) department.

“This is being done to see that the state government is ready with all the necessary arrangements. Those who are found to be in good health will have to be in isolation in their homes for 14 days. Those with any symptoms will be sent to corona care centres and would have to be there. There is a provision for those who wish to be in isolation at hotels or resorts and they will have to pay for it," said the order.

“Whenever those who migrated return, we are ready to receive them. The government has readied all services to this end. The government will establish a wide range of hospital and care network for them," chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan posted on Facebook.

The government expects 500,000 expats to land up within 30 days after flights resume and has charted a plan that will abide by central government norms, an official aware of the discussions said, requesting anonymity.

The state government has got nearly 300,000 hospital beds ready to accommodate those among them who will need hospitalization, said the official mentioned above.

Testing centres will also be beefed up to accommodate a potential increase in samples, he added.

The task force has members from all major departments such as health, transport, revenue, police and the district administrations.

The state government is also planning ahead for those who return from other states, the official said.

Vijayan had earlier said that the government will also reach out to embassies to provide sufficient help for migrants stranded in foreign countries.

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