India’s OYO hotels came forward for quarantine services in Saudi

Irfan Mohammed

Jeddah: Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia is working to address concerns of the Indian expatriate community amidst growing cases of COVID-19 pandemic in oil-rich gulf nation. The Indian missions in the country working round- the- clock to reach out to the community, according to the top envoy.

“The ministry of health has informed us that 186 Indians were infected with COVID-19 and most of their condition is stable. There were two deaths reported one in Riyadh, where 29 – year youth succumbed to disease and another case in Madinah, both deceased, were hailing from Kerala”, Dr Ausaf Sayeed, India Ambassador told.

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Addressing virtual media conference from Riyadh on Wednesday, he opined the figure is relatively lower compared with the proportion of Indian community size in Saudi Arabia.

The Ambassador said that Indian missions in the Kingdom have roped several Indian doctors and created WhatsApp groups to address their health concerns and liaison with local health authorities.

“The Indian embassy can work within the framework of local authorities”, he emphasized.

Dr Ausaf Sayeed revealed that the embassy is exploring the possibilities of converting Indian community-run schools into quarantine facilities, if necessary and also with due approval with the ministry of health.

The Ambassador said that India’s OYO Hotels group also offered some of its hotel facilities to be converted as quarantine.

Answering the contiguous issue of Indian school fees payment, which was raised by several scribes, the ambassador said that Indian higher education board will be meeting in the next couple days and will assess the situation.

Since many employees not receiving salaries, some parents seeking relief in school fee payment for their wards.

He clarified that non-payment of school fee is not a general prevailing problem, quoting the example of Dammam Indian Embassy school, he said that only 600 parents reportedly delay in the payment out of 15000 parents in Dammam, the largest community school in Saudi Arabia.

Ausaf Sayeed said that “ No child will be debarred from attending online classes due to nonpayment of the tuition fee.

Ambassador also asserted that Indian community schools in the Kingdom run on no profit and no loss basis, though schools not being operated yet overhead cost need to be maintained.

“Even during lockdown period, schools spending additional amount for software and hardware for online classes”, he told.

Ambassador informed that 3000 Umrah pilgrims have repatriated back home India prior to flight suspension by India. 248 Umrah pilgrims remained in Kingdom as they not able to return home, he told.

When asked Ausaf Sayeed said told that there is no indication of flights resumption to India but whenever it flight operates repatriation will be done priority basis by taking consideration of humanitarian grounds.

The top told that several community members approaching the Indian mission for seeking passes to help needy compatriots but its local authorities who issue the passes but not the embassy.

“We, as Indian embassy, with such large number of people have received only three curfew passes”, he told.

Indian Haj mission ambulances in Makkah can be utilized to ferry Indian patients depending upon situation and approval from local authorities, he added.

Ambassador said that food will be provided to needy Indian workers in the Kingdom.

Dr. Ausaf Sayeed said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is especially focusing upon Indian Diaspora in abroad, spoken with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to discuss mutual cooperation in combatting COVID-19 with G20 plan, where both countries are members.

The Ambassador hailed gratitude of Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Salman for providing free health care for all expatriates and effectively combating the spread of the pandemic in the Kingdom.

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