‘Bring back 56 pregnant nurses stranded abroad’

The United Nurses Association has approached the Delhi High Court seeking direction to bring back 55 pregnant nurses stranded in Saudi Arabia and one in Kuwait due to the lockdown.

The association said all the 56 pregnant nurses have serious medical issues as most of them are in the 3rd trimester of their pregnancy and are staying alone. The petition, filed through advocate Subhash Chandran K.R., claimed that even though most of the nurses were duly registered with the Indian Embassy at Saudi Arabia for prioritised repatriation in the first phase of ‘Vande Bharat Mission’, they were not considered by the Centre.

The first phase of ‘Vande Bharat Mission’, was launched on May 7, 2020, to repatriate citizens stranded abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The pleas said the phased repatriation mission from May 7 to 13, has 64 flights bringing back approximately 14,800 citizens from 12 countries, including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Philippines, Singapore, the U.K., Bangladesh, Singapore, the U.S. and Oman among others.

One of the largest nurses’ association with 3.8 lakh nurses as its members, it said “even after the first phase of ‘Vande Bharat Mission’, a large number of persons with medical emergencies, including pregnant women are still stranded in foreign lands”.

Repatriation flights

The association said under the second phase of ‘Vande Bharat Mission’, the government plans to operate 149 repatriation flights to 31 countries between May 16 and May 22 to bring home citizens stranded abroad.

The pleas urged the court to bring back the 56 pregnant nurses on priority, claming that all of them are in “serious distress and need immediate medical and socio-psycho support”.

The plea said since the nurses are healthcare workers, they are exposed to hazards that put them at risk of infection. “Hazards include pathogen exposure, long working hours, psychological distress, fatigue, occupational burnout, stigma, and physical and psychological violence etc.” the plea said.

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