Kochi: A 105-member medical team from Kerala left for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a mission to treat COVID-19 patients on May 20. This is as part of an initiative of VPS healthcare group based in the gulf nation.

The team comprising nurses and other healthcare pesonnel included 30 employees of VPS healthcare group, who were stranded in Kerala due to the lockdown after returning from a vacation, a release from the company said.

All the members departed to Abu Dhabi from Cochin international airport on a specially chartered Etihad aircraft.

The team members will be working in the critical care units of various COVID-19 designated hospitals across the emirates.

This will further strengthen the efforts of the UAE government in combating COVID-19, it said.

The travel date was decided after the medical team received the nod from the ministry of external affairs, ministry of home affairs, and the ministry of health in both countries, it added.

Of the 105 members who arrived in the UAE, 75 are recruits from India who have come to join the gulf nation's battle against the pandemic.

VPS healthcare firector (India) Hafiz Ali Ullat said, "We extend our deep gratitude to the governments of India and the UAE, and the state government of Kerala for its support in this medical mission."

"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, a senior nurse among the medical team, said it was 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... we are very confident and motivated. We are taking it up as a challenge," he said.

All the members of the team underwent a COVID-19 test on Sunday and all of them tested negative.