Travel ban on Indian Passengers going global
Almost a third of all Canada-bound flights with Covid positive flyers from Delhi
Nearly a third of international flights that landed in Canada with passengers that tested positive for coronavirus upon arrival between March 3 and 19, were from Delhi, data sourced from Health Canada showed. A total of 98 international flights arrived in the North American country during this period, of which 30 were from Delhi, and of these, 21 were operated by Air India and nine by Air Canada.
Of these 30 flights from Delhi, 21 landed in Toronto and nine landed in Vancouver. As of February 14, Canadian authorities compel flyers over the age of five to provide a Covid-19 negative molecular test certificate before boarding a Canada-bound flight. Pointing to “lacunae” in test reports, Air India said, “Air India as a responsible airline is strictly conforming to the rules and protocol laid down by different countries. Only passengers with Covid negative reports are being allowed to board international flights from any destination in India. Hence, Air India cannot be held responsible for any lacunae on the issue of passenger test reports”. Air India had come under fire from Hong Kong authorities as well last year for transporting passengers who tested Covid-19 positive upon arrival. Because of this, the flag carrier faced several 15-day ban from Hong Kong administration from flying into the city.
After New Zealand, will other countries ban travellers from India?
It’s not just New Zealand that has seen a rise in cases because of passengers arriving from India. Several other countries have reported many Covid-19 passengers arriving in flights that originated in India.
Few days ago, New Zealand announced it was suspending entry of travellers from India, including its own citizens. The move comes after New Zealand recorded 23 new positive coronavirus cases at its border of which 17 were from India.
Today, HONGKONG flight bans announced (again) :
•Flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines banned for 14 days starting April 20 (midnight)
•Those who stayed there for more than 2 hrs also banned •21-day quarantine, with additional requirements: 7-day self-monitoring and day 26 test.
The reason is Frightening : a single flight from Delhi to Hong Kong has so far led to 47 imported cases (& counting). All were required to do pre-departure testing and all were tested upon arrival. Yet, most of the cases were detected in hotel quarantine (most detected on day 12). All 47 passengers on Vistara flight UK6395 from New Delhi to Hong Kong on April 4th have now tested positive for COVID-19.
What is the Problem Statement in all above scenarios ?
Each country has released its own travel advisory and the mandate is any passenger entering into the country should carry a “Negative Molecular Test Certificate”. That’s fine . So the passengers were screened in India, test reports presented by passengers were checked, cleared and passengers landed into those countries as well. They were detected Positive there during quarnatine phase .
So where did the things go wrong ? At Airlines Travel Desk at India ?
What was checked by these travel desk teams, ticketing teams ?
How far are they trained to check the authenticity of the test reports issued ?
Since almost all countries , embassies insist on Test reports from Accredited Labs, how did the Accredited Labs issue such reports ?
Were these reports issued by Accredited Labs or by any Labs in the first place ?
There were reports that these are photo shopped reports too. If such is the scenario, how come airport travel desk teams are not trained ? Whose fault it is , not training them ?
Do these travel desk teams know whom to reach out if they need guidance while checking authenticity of the reports ?
Are they trained on reporting or getting travellers arrested immediately for submitting fake reports ?
Why should Brand India’s reputation be at stake when simple processes, protocols are not followed by Airlines Staff ?
Why don’t Airlines, Hospitality industry, Travel Agents etc undergo mandatory training from Accreditation Boards to equip themselves better ?
What is the solution for detecting such fake reports ? If solutions are available, why don’t Medical Labs introduce such checks , controls or systems to save the trouble for all ?
In the opening para of this post, Air India official said Air India is not responsible for the lacunae in the issuance of the Test Reports. How correct he is in making such a statement ? As an agency responsible for verification of such reports as its the norm of importing country, how can Air India wash off its hands like this ?
Indian Travellers are risking their lives as well as the lives of international population by resorting to these fradulent practices. But they get severely punished in foreign land for such violations too. Incidents like this will affect the Travel & Trade between the countries .
As Exporting Country, we need to have strong checks and balances to ensure that our Country’s Reputation doesn’t got for a toss like this in the global markets ! We know about the norms imposed by Importing countries and its our duty to ensure that all stakeholders are thoroughly trained, sensitised on all protocols.