Indian community upsets New Zealand labeled as ‘at risk’ Covid-19 country


Members of the Kiwi Indian community want to know why New Zealand is on India’s ‘at risk’ list for Covid-19, saying the move will increase their chances of contracting the virus.

New Zealand’s addition to the list at the end of last month means the country is now in the same risk category as the UK, South Africa, Brazil and China.

New Zealanders must now wait up to eight hours for a post-arrival Covid-19 test at an airport alongside passengers from high-risk countries.

If they are positive, they must go to a basic quarantine facility until they are negative.

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At one facility in Mumbai, the basic beds are placed close to each other in a room and there is no medical equipment.

Travelers who test negative can spend seven days in isolation at home.

New Zealanders previously did not have to take an on-arrival test, a policy consistent with Australia, which formed a travel bubble with India.

A man, who did not want his name published, booked flights from Auckland to India as soon as the government announced that returning travelers would not have to self-isolate at a managed isolation facility and quarantine (MIQ) from February 14.

After his mother died from Covid-19 in northern India last year, he had tried to find a way to be with his father and family so he could mourn.

He finally saw an opportunity with the introduction of a home comeback without MIQ.

When he booked the flights, including fares for his wife and 4-year-old daughter, New Zealand was not listed as a risk country by the Indian government, but the recent change frustrated him and stress.

The family must have left New Zealand on Christmas Day, transiting through Dubai before landing in New Delhi.

They had to wait there up to eight hours to get the results of their Covid-19 test, when they had already tested negative 48 hours before taking off.

The man said he was worried about how his daughter would cope with the wait and worried about the increased risk they were facing of catching Covid-19 at the airport.

With the small, remote village his family lives in, so far successfully avoiding the Omicron variant, he feared introducing the highly infectious strain.

A quarantine facility in Mumbai, where there are several beds pushed together in a large room.

Provided / Content

A quarantine facility in Mumbai, where there are several beds pushed together in a large room.

He felt compelled to take his wife and daughter with him because his New Zealand resident status meant he could find himself stranded in India if the government closed the New Zealand border.

His daughter has citizenship, which allows him to come back too, and he had reserved a place at MIQ in early February as a precaution.

Aucklander Gaurav Devgan was also due to travel to Mumbai on Monday with his wife and two children to see his mother, who has stage four cancer.

He was nervous about catching Covid-19 during the flight as he did not want to enter the institutional quarantine facility near Mumbai airport.

“They made it into a prison… I don’t know what I’m going to do if I end up in this.”

Devgan wanted to know why the Indian government called New Zealand “at risk” and urged it to reconsider its decision.

“It creates more stress. “

Victoria University professor emeritus Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, director of the Indian Research Institute, said there was no scientific basis for the Indian government’s decision.

He suspected the move was diplomatic, as New Zealand Indians were unhappy that the government here placed India on the list of high-risk countries, although it was subsequently removed from the list. , did he declare.

“The Indian government is quite receptive to such complaints. “

A bed in a quarantine facility in India.

Provided

A bed in a quarantine facility in India.

A spokesperson for the Indian High Commission said it was not a “tit for tat response” and that the two countries enjoyed “good relations”.

He said the New Zealand government should take into account the more than 800 family members and students stranded in India, and called on them to consider their cases sympathetically and urgently.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was up to each country to determine its own Covid-19 border parameters.


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