Aster DM Foundation on Thursday said that at least 73 healthcare workers stuck in India due to COVID-19 received special approval from the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) to travel to the UAE. Issuing a press statement, the group said that the 73 health workers were divided into two groups and they left for the UAE on Wednesday after DHA's green signal.
According to media reports, the UAE authorities had made it necessary for healthcare workers stranded in India due to COVID-19 travel restrictions to receive special approvals in order to enter the emirate with effect from April 25.
In line with this protocol, private healthcare groups in the UAE had contacted the authorities, seeking special permission to ensure the return of their employees and newly recruited healthcare workers from India to the emirates. Some groups had received special approvals from UAE authorities to facilitate the return of their employees.
In the statement, Aster DM Healthcare added that employees who reached Dubai include existing healthcare workers employed at various units of its hospitals and clinics network in the country.
The group further pointed out that there are some more healthcare workers waiting for approval to return to UAE. The team consists of a significant number of medical professionals with experience in intensive care units and expertise in treating COVID-19 patients.
A majority of these healthcare workers were in India at their homes on leave when the UAE's COVID-19-related travel restrictions were announced. The group noted that it had approached the DHA for special travel permission to fly back its healthcare professionals stranded in India.
“DHA provided the permission and forwarded the approved list of travellers to Emirates airlines," Aster added.
According to Dr Sherbaz Bichu, CEO of UAE-based Aster Hospitals and Clinics, the group has all the required special approvals from the foreign ministry to bring back healthcare workers from India.
"Our healthcare professionals have travelled from different parts of India — Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Maharashtra, Hyderabad, Madhya Pradesh to be present at Cochin and Bengaluru [airports] on 7 July for their international flights departing from India to UAE," Dr Bichu said.
In conclusion, he expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Dubai Government, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai Airport Authority and Emirates Airlines for their support in making the travel arrangement possible for the group. He underlined the need for Aster staff to come back and fill the gaps across the network of hospitals in Dubai during the ongoing efforts to combat the pandemic in the emirate.