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Coronavirus Pandemic

Combating coronavirus: Some expats returning to UAE given home-quarantine option

Saman Haziq
Filed on June 4, 2020 | Last updated on June 4, 2020 at 06.30 am
Combating, covid19, coronavirus, UAE expats, returning, abroad, opt, home-quarantine

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All passengers had to sign a health declaration form on landing after which they underwent the mandatory Covid-19 test at the airport.

Jayesh Adnani, a Dubai resident studying at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, was one of the lucky students to make it back to the UAE on the first few special flights that have started bringing stranded expatriates abroad from June 1.

His parents waited outside Dubai International Airport just to catch a glimpse of him and wave at him as they were told that passengers on incoming flights would be taken to quarantine facilities. However, unlike last week, this time the students were given the option to home-quarantine or pay for staying at the five-star facility for 14 days.

His mother Ekta Adnani said: "Some of our friends' children had arrived from Canada last week and they were taken to these five-star quarantine facilities in Dubai with the government bearing all expenses of their 14-day stay. We were expecting the same. Our son and others with him were individually taken in chauffeur-driven cars to the facility. Jayesh later called us and told us about the two options they were given. He opted for home quarantine and after installing the AlHosn app on his phone, he was dropped off at home. "He looks physically fine and has no symptoms. But since he is home now, we will try our best and follow the home quarantine guidelines."

All the passengers of these special flights had to sign a health declaration form on landing after which they underwent the mandatory Covid-19 test at the airport.

Another student on the same flight from Toronto was Abu Dhabi resident Nikita Srivastava, who was studying chemical engineering at University of Waterloo in Ontario. She was excited to see her parents after six months.

However, since Abu Dhabi has closed borders due to the mass testing going on in the emirate, her parents could not go to see her at the airport.

"It has been a long wait for me and my family as I was supposed to fly on March 21 but due to flight suspensions, I wasn't able to come back. My parents applied thrice for ICA but my application was rejected, and finally our fourth application got approved on May 31. I had a tough time as my campus had closed and had to hunt for a room to stay on my own."

Hundreds of parents wait for approval

While these families were lucky to get their children back home some others aren't so lucky.

Nasir and Shagufta Munshi are worried for their daughter Aisha Munshi, who is doing her Masters at a university in New York.

"Aisha had to leave the university accommodation and has now moved to New Jersey alone. She was in a single room and was virtually going into depression due to loneliness. She has been too long away from home, and we are constantly worrying about her safety and health due to the ongoing riots and coronavirus pandemic in the US," her mother said.

Another parent Mukesh Kumar said after seeing students from Canada arrive, he is hopeful his 20 year old son Aman Kumar will also get his approval soon.

"Aman is in his final year of  University of British Columbia, since his first semester classes from September to December have been declared online, we decided to get him back to Dubai. We have applied for the permit a third time after getting rejected the first two times. We hope that like the lucky ones who have arrived, others can also make it soon as it is very hard for us parents to see our children suffer alone in an alien country."

'Treated like VIPs'

Nikita said the airport procedures were well-organised and smooth. "We were treated like VIPs as soon as we landed here."

Her father Nabender Kumar Srivastava said that although he was happy and relieved to have his daughter back in the UAE, he had another issue to tackle, which was to bring Nikita back home to Abu Dhabi.

"I was not aware that we would have to pay for the hotel quarantine facility. But since there is a movement restriction here in Abu Dhabi, I was unable to go to pick her today. I applied for movement permit but it got rejected today. I will try again tomorrow so that I can go to Dubai and pick her up. For the time being she is resting in the hotel quarantine facility and I will pay for a day or two till I can bring her back here." 

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