Udayavni Special

US repatriates 1,300 Americans from India; several developing cold feet at last moment: Official


PTI, Apr 7, 2020, 8:30 AM IST

Washington: The United States has so far repatriated around 1,300 Americans from India but a considerable number of them are developing cold feet in flying back home, a senior US official has said.

“About 1,300 American citizens have been brought back as of last night, and we have five additional flights scheduled this week. It’s difficult to say with any certainty how many Americans intend or need assistance in repatriating to the US. We have had over 7,000 register with the US embassy and consulate,” Alice G Wells, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, said during a teleconference here on Monday, April 6.

While Wells did not give a clear idea on why rest of the Americans had developed cold feet to return back home, it can be seen in the context of the US emerging as the hot spot of coronavirus in the world.

Till Monday, over 360,000 people have tested positive with coronavirus and the fatalities have crossed the 10,000 in a matter of weeks.

Wells said that Americans in India were needed to make a decision. Members of the White House Task Force on Coronavirus have projected between 100,000 and 200,000 COVID-19 deaths in the US in the next several weeks.

Ian Brownlee, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, said a large number of Americans in India have cancelled their intent to travel to the US even after the US Government made arrangements for their flights.

“We had multiple thousands who, when we put in India when we put the call out for expressions of interest in a flight, and yet over this weekend, our staff in India literally cold-called 800 people asking if they wanted to get on a flight today. We got 10 positive responses,” Brownlee said.

Since January 29, the US has brought home over 43,000 American citizens including those from countries like Peru, India, Egypt, Nepal, and Burundi.

“The US is currently working on over 80 flights worldwide,” Brownlee said.

Of these, the US organized 13 flights from South and Central Asia, including special flights home for about 2,900 US citizens from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.

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