BENGALURU: After 74 days of being quarantined in single cabins on a ship in a port in Rome, Thursday turned out to be an emotional day for 124 staffers. As they headed to board ‘Alitalia’ departing at 1.35 pm from Roma Fiumicino International Airport, they lost themselves in clicking selfies and taking the last few group snaps with colleagues of the ‘MSc Grandiosa’ ship. They formed part of 280 Indians being repatriated by a special chartered flight (AZ 9600) from four such stranded ships in Italy.
This lot of returnees, including a few women, are part of 200 Indians forcibly quarantined inside Grandiosa since March 15 as the coronavirus was raging in Italy. While 83 of them are from Goa, 41 are from Mumbai. The trip is all the more sweet for them as they had four false starts during the last two months. And finally, this time they actually stepped inside the departing flight. Glenn Ebnett, an activist from Mumbai, who had been arguing their case with Indian authorities has a feeling of mission accomplished. “After days of hard work, it is such a relief to reunite them all with their worried families,” he told TNIE. The returnees were naturally overjoyed.
Rahul Shanbhag, who takes care of dining services on board Grandiosa, told this reporter over phone, “I am happy and emotional. I spoke to my family now from the airport. My mother is in tears.” Ozy Travasso, working in the housekeeping section, said, “I want to thank MSC for everything and our Indian activist friend Glenn Enbett for doing so much for us. I am very, happy.” Rooseevelt Bosco Fernandes, a waiter, too was emotional.
He said, “I am so happy that I am finally going home after being over 70 days onboard.” According to a communication from the ship company MSC, “All of them will be subject to the Indian health authority requirement of one-week quarantine upon arrival in a hotel. Transportation, accommodation will be on MSC.” It added that 7 days of home quarantine would follow that. Representatives from the Indian Embassy in Italy were there to send off the ship staffers. TNIE had highlighted their terrible plight in the front page of its issue dated May 25.