172 Koreans from the virus-hit India returned home through a special flight, Tuesday. According to the health authorities, more are expected to come home this week.
A plane by Indian air carrier Vistara departed Chennai International Airport in southern India and landed at Incheon International Airport around 10:17 a.m, carrying 172 passengers, including workers of Hyundai Motor Co.
India has seen a fatal rise in COVID-19 infections due to a highly contagious variant strain. The country has seen more than 300,000 new COVID cases each day for 13 consecutive days. The total number of infections has now exceeded 20 million.
Regular flights between South Korea and India have been suspended since March last year due to the pandemic. Only non-regular flights are allowed to operate between the two countries.
However, due to the rising cases of the Indian variant of COVID-19, South Korea has suspended non-scheduled flights from April 24. Flights carrying South Korean nationals are still allowed, albeit limited.
Planes bound for South Korea from India are only to fill less than 60 percent of their seats and 90 percent of those seats must be seated by a South Korean citizen.
Those bound for South Korea must submit a health certificate, certifying a negative coronavirus test. All arrivals from India must stay in designated shelters for seven days, despite testing negative.
Before, travelers from India only had to stay at designated centers for two days but health authorities decided to tighten measures. Aside from that, they need to take a diagnostic test on the sixth day after their arrival. If they test negative, they are allowed to move to residential places for self-isolation. Before their release, they need to go through another virus test again.
A flight from Asiana Airlines is scheduled to carry 211 passengers from Bengaluru International Airport in India, Friday.
The authorities plan to allow 10 more non-scheduled flights this month to carry South Korean citizens home from India.
The number of cases from India was at 35 last week, an increase from the 14 recorded between April 4 and 10. Health authorities have also identified 33 Indian COVID-19 variant cases, Tuesday.