Updated: July 26, 2021 1:45:08 pm
After her flight was cancelled twice amid the ongoing pandemic, Harmanjeet Kaur spent three times the normal travel expense and six days to reach Canada from India to join her classes at a Montreal college. The long journey took her to Serbia, Frankfurt, before her final touchdown in Canada. It involved two RT-PCR tests en route — one in Serbia during her three-day stay and another in Frankfurt.
Like Harman, another student, Ramneek Singh, too opted for the long route, only that his journey involved 7 days in Serbia as per the latest guidelines. This meant Ramneek had to shell out even more money to reach his destination in Canada.
Canada had suspended direct flights from India on April 22. But despite the cost and the lengthy journey involved, several overseas students from Punjab are re-routing their travel to Canada via Moscow, Mexico, Serbia, Qatar, Dubai among other countries. At several international airports, they are required to stay for a day to get their RT-PCR done which is apart from the requirement of being vaccinated against Covid-19 before starting the journey from home.
Harman, who had completed one semester of her course online, had got both her vaccine doses before getting a visa to travel.
But vaccine is no guarantee of a hassle-free journey.
“If a student tests positive then they will have to stay in those countries till they get the negative report after the treatment which is even more costly but students are taking all the risks to reach Canada,’’ added Ramneek.
“But we have no other option because Canadian government is extending the ban on direct travelling quite often as earlier it was till July end and now this has been extended to August end. In such a situation it is better to re-route the travel rather than sitting here and taking online classes,” said another student Harpreet Singh, who got a one-way ticket for Rs 1.20 lakh and will spend nearly Rs 60,000 on his stay before entering Canada.
In normal times, the ticket to Canada costs around Rs 50,000.
“Even after getting double dose and RT-PCR from the country of our stay on the way, when we land in Canada, we are asked to quarantine further, said another student who reached Canada recently.
“In Canada earlier essential services were opened and now they are opening everything slowly because Canada has already fully vaccinated half of its population and will complete the entire vaccination process in the coming months,” said another student, adding that re-routing is better than staying back because we have to recover our study expenses too as our parents cannot afford the second year fee which is in lakhs and with unlocking of Canada they will get good work here.
“If I get work after landing there, I will recover my ticket money in two months’ time rather than waiting here,” he said.
“The students who can afford such costly travel are preferring to adopt this rerouting while there are thousands who are still waiting for opening of direct flight to Canada because they cannot afford to pay so much,” said Khilandeep Singh, who runs Can-Able Education and Consultant service in Ludhiana.
“Our students are asking repeatedly whether they should go through expensive rerouting or wait and we are just asking them to consider their paying capacity and plan,” said another overseas education, Gurpreet Singh.
A travel agent said that it was strange that Canadian government was not allowing the fully vaccinated students directly from India, but it was okay for them to enter through a different route.
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