I have been living in Dubai for the last three months. Unfortunately, my visit visa will expire on 24 March. In the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak, when all countries are banning travel, I decided to apply for its renewal in the UAE itself when suddenly, on 14 March, it was announced that UAE will stop issuing any entry visas, starting 17 March. It took longer than the stipulated time to process.
Meanwhile, India announced that an international traveller, entering India from 18 March onwards, would have to undergo a compulsory 14-day quarantine. A blanket ban on travel was also foreseeable.
Not willing to take that risk, I booked my tickets back home to Mumbai.
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When I reached Dubai Airport, I was a little surprised because one of the world’s busiest airports was almost empty. At the security gate, there wasn’t a temperature check even in such a time. There were thermal scanners at the ‘Arrivals’ terminal but for people who were departing, there was no such procedure.I was further surprised to see airport and flight staff, including those at the baggage and check-in counters, not wearing any masks, hand gloves, any kind of protection. Even the flight attendants weren’t wearing protective gear.
This disappointed me because I had booked an airline carrier after researching which company was taking the utmost measures during the coronavirus outbreak.
People on the same flight seemed unbothered. I thought I was the only one who was wearing gloves, eyeglasses, a cap, old clothes that I could dispose of after I got home. I was going out of a country without having gone through any screening!
Was Mumbai Airport Any Different?
After I landed at the Mumbai Airport, I went straight to the washroom, sanitised myself, and changed my gloves and mask. Everyone was given two copies of a self declaration form which asked one’s address, phone number, along with other health details.
One copy had to be submitted at a health check-up counter, where my temperature was checked. The other copy, I handed at the immigration counter where they thoroughly checked my form... but that is all.
I went directly home. There were no directions to self-quarantine. I disposed of my clothes and everything else I was carrying. I am going to stay home for the mandated 14 days and am trying my best to avoid my family and friends as precaution. I haven’t been contacted by any official authorities yet but I think I will be in a few days as others I know were contacted and asked about their health.
I think the procedures need to be made more stringent. Indian airports should take care of such things and the Indian government too, for anyone who travels from abroad.
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