New Delhi: Amid an increase in COVID-19 cases in Kerala, the state government has now made it mandatory for expatriates to have COVID-19 negative certificates before returning home from foreign countries to protect others and prevent further spread of the virus in the state. Irrespective of whether the Keralites are taking flights under the Vande Bharat mission or chartered flights arranged by various organisations, they should possess the negative certificate, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said. Also Read - 'Breaking Chain of COVID Infection': 10-day Complete Lockdown in Thane City, Mira-Bhayandar And Kalyan-Dombivali From Today

Pinarayi Vaijayan asserted that in case the countries lack facilities to conduct the tests, the Central government should arrange them through embassies because it was not possible to bring the infected patients along with other passengers. Also Read - Norms For Varanasi Temples During 'Saawan': Masks Compulsory, Crowding Will Lead to Temples Being Shut

Notably, this decision has come down under fire from the oppostion. Also Read - Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah New Episodes Update: Asit Modi Says 'We Are Not in a Race to Resume Shooting'

Slamming the Kerala government, Union Minister V Muraleedharan had said it was impractical to conduct COVID-19 tests for all the returning expats through the embassies.

“This decision will affect those who want to return to the state from abroad,” Muraledharan had said, accusing the Vijayan government of running away from its responsibilities.

Responding to the flak, Vijayan sought to explain that his government was ready to welcome those who tested positive for the deadly virus provided they come by a separate flight and not along with other passengers.

If the infected were allowed to travel with other passengers, it would result in the spread of the virus as there were pregnant women, children and elders travelling on Vande Bharat flights and there was possibility of them contracting the pathogen, he said.

Vijayan had on Sunday written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention to make arrangements for carrying out COVID-19 testing for those returning from various countries through Indian embassies abroad.

Kerala has a total of 2622 Coronavirus cases.