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400 Koreans to return home from virus-hit India

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Seoul, May 4 (UiTV/IANS) - Nearly 400 South Korean residents in India will return home this week via non-scheduled flights authorized by the government, health authorities here said on Monday, as they plan to safely transport the nation's citizens from the coronavirus-hit country.

The authorities said a Vistara flight carrying 173 people, including workers of Hyundai Motor, will arrive in Incheon on Tuesday after departing from Chennai International Airport in India.

Also, a flight by Asiana Airlines is scheduled to return home with 211 passengers on Friday from Bengaluru International Airport, they added.

India has been a virus hotspot in recent months, with a COVID-19 variant strain also posing a problem. The country has reported around 300,000 new coronavirus cases per day for over a week.

Regular flights between South Korea and India have already been suspended from March last year over virus concerns. Since then, only non-scheduled flights have been operated between the two countries.

But to better contain the Indian variant of COVID-19, the government also started to suspend non-scheduled flights from April 24, although it allowed flights carrying South Korean nationals to operate on a limited basis, reports Yonhap news agency.

Passenger jets bound for South Korea from India are required to fill less than 60 percent of their seats, and at least 90 percent of them must be occupied by South Korean citizens.

Those aboard flights to South Korea must submit a health certificate proving they tested negative for the novel coronavirus and will undergo temperature checks.

Airlines plan to place vaccinated workers on the flights and they will be advised to keep a distance between seats and minimize food or beverage services.

Once they land in South Korea, all arrivals from India must stay in state-designated shelters for two days. If they test negative for the virus during their stay, they can then move to their residential places for self-isolation.