19-year-old Lareina Kumar had to do to get to the university of her dreams in Canada was catch a flight from India to Dubai, a nine-hour layover to take the next flight to Barcelona, two hours to catch the next flight to Mexico, two days in Mexico to take an RT-PCR test, and finally a flight to Vancouver.
Kumar’s journey to four countries was not planned as a vacation, but she didn’t have a choice because, due to the Covid-19 situation during the second wave, Canada has forbidden direct flights from India. With the ban on direct flights being extended for the third time, Indian students who have been accepted to Canadian universities must take a connecting flight to Canada, where they must procure a negative RT-PCR certificate from a third country. That third country must be on Canada’s list of approved countries. Students and parents request that India raise the issue of Indian RT-PCR tests not being accepted by the Canadian government, claiming that the standard process is not only burdensome but also costly.
While Kumar had her travel resolved by splurging over Rs 5 lakh on a trip that would normally cost less than Rs 1.5 lakh, several others, including herself, are still deciding out the best course of action, the excessive costs involved, and the ambiguity. “I had intended to accompany my daughter to assist her in settling in, but the pandemic has thwarted all of my plans. Not only does my daughter have to travel alone for the first time, but she also has to navigate through four countries with the knowledge that the rules can change at any time “Lovely Kumar, Lareina’s mother, told PTI.
At a time when various European countries, including that of the United Kingdom and France, have eased travel curbs on India due to the improvement in India’s Covid-19 situation, Canada has lengthened the ban on direct flights from India until September 21. Last month, India’s High Commissioner to Canada, Ajay Bisaria, met with an Air India representative in Toronto to discuss the resumption of flights between the two countries. Many travelers, especially students, have expressed a strong desire for this, according to Bisaria.