KOCHI: A 105-member medical team from Kerala has travelled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a medical mission to treat COVID-19 patients, making this the second big medical contingent from the state to reach the Gulf country to counter the spread of the pandemic.
The medical team comprising of members from almost all the districts of Kerala reached Abu Dhabi. They flew from the Kochi airport on a specially chartered Etihad aircraft on Wednesday.
An initiative of VPS Healthcare, a healthcare group in the UAE, the team members will be working in the critical care units various COVID-19 hospitals across the Emirates. This will further strengthen the efforts of the UAE government in combating COVID-19, officials said here.
The travel date was decided after the medical team received permissions from the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Ministry of Health in both countries for the travel.
Of the 105 members who arrived in the UAE, 75 are recruits from India who have come to join the UAE’s battle against the pandemic. The rest 30 are employees of VPS Healthcare who have been in Kerala on vacation. They couldn’t return due to lockdown. All of these team members are extensively trained and experienced in critical care.
VPS Healthcare Director (India) Hafiz Ali Ullat said they are extremely proud to send a medical team to the UAE from Kerala.
“We extend our deep gratitude to the governments of India and the UAE, and the state government of Kerala for its support of this medical mission. During this health emergency, we strongly believe it is our responsibility to work hand-in-hand with the government. In UAE, we have been working with the government from the beginning. Sending a medical team is a part of our continuous effort in supporting the government there during this pandemic. The medical team will be following all the travel guidelines and maintain social distancing norms even on the flight,” he said.
Vinod Sebastian, one among the senior nurse among the medical team, said it is a proud moment for each of them.
“It is our duty to serve and treat the patients during this unprecedented crisis. For the majority of the nurses in the medical team, it is their maiden journey to a foreign country. All of them are extensively experienced in critical care. We are very confident and motivated. We are taking it up as a challenge,” he said adding that his family has been very supportive and encouraging.
Vinod had been a frontline volunteer when Kerala faced devastating floods in 2018 and 2019.
All the members of the medical team underwent a COVID-19 test on Sunday and all were tested negative. The travel of the nurses to Kochi was facilitated by the Office of the Kerala Chief Minister.
Four KSRTC buses were arranged for this. The team followed social distancing norms while travelling.
Early this month, a team of 88 health workers, including 38 from Kerala, also left for UAE to treat the COVID patients in the Arab country.