Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid-19: Indian healthcare workers seek exemption for UAE return

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on April 24, 2021
AFP photo used for illustrative purpose

Several health-care professionals are currently holidaying with their families in India.

UAE based Indian healthcare workers are urging for exemption from entry ban after the country announced a ten-day flight suspension starting 11.59pm on Saturday.

People who were all set to travel to India to be with their loved ones or attend to urgent matters are now worried about their lives back in the UAE, their jobs, and the moral obligations towards their patients.

Dr Preeti Ranjalkar who is visiting India to meet her daughter studying medicine in Mangalore and her brother’s family is worried with the uncertain situation. “I have been on vacation since April 2 and was scheduled to fly back on 30 April, but now I am stuck. I am a gynecologist and I have given appointments to my patients starting 1 May. Now I am getting worried and keep thinking about my patients. I had last seen my family in September 2019 and was happy to see them finally, but little did I think I would get stuck here”, says the UAE resident who works as a Specialist Gynecologist at Aster Medical Centre Ajman.

“All my appointments are booked. Many patients come for antenatal checkups and are waiting for me to return. It is stressful for them to suddenly change their doctor as I have been their gynecologist for a certain length of their pregnancy. I was also thinking if I could get onto a chartered plane at the earliest or if there is an exemption for healthcare workers it would be ideal,” she said.

Preeti who is a native of Hooghly in Karnataka even tried booking a flight from Goa, after Karnataka witnessed a surge in Covid-19 cases.

Now all she wants is to return to the UAE, her ‘second home’.

“I usually fly back from Bangalore, but I didn’t want to touch Bangalore this time as it’s badly affected with Covid cases. Therefore, I was planning to fly back from Goa which is only four hours by road from Hooghly. There are Air Arabia flights from Goa to Sharjah. but the RT-PCR test needs to be valid for 48 hours and we are not getting the report quickly enough. It takes at least 24 hours to receive the test report. Then travelling from a smaller town to the main airport from where we are to board the flight would also take some extra time. So, it wasn’t working out,” she said.

Similarly, Rincy Chacko, a Nursing Coordinator who flew home to India with her 11-year-old son and husband in mid-April was also looking to enjoy a long vacation with her parents in Kerala.

But due to the sudden turn of events Rincy and her family are not in a position to fly back to the UAE any time soon following suspension of passenger flights from India.

“We are under seven days home quarantine as per the government’s rule which states that international passengers will have to undergo a mandatory seven-day quarantine. Now even after following all these protocols after arriving here, all we are looking forward to returning to the UAE quickly. With the new rules in place, we are really tense as my husband has only one month of leave. We keep hearing that the flight suspension period may increase well beyond ten days, as the situation is quite worrisome. I request the authorities to allow us to travel back to the UAE”, says the native of Pataranga district, Kerala.

Like Rincy and Dr Preeti, several Indian health-care professionals from the UAE are currently holidaying back home with their families after a long gap and are in a fix following the suspension of flights from India to the UAE.

“As a nursing coordinator I have a lot of responsibilities, I have handed over my work to somebody for the time being. But I need to rejoin in time. We are so worried now – whether we will be able to go back to the UAE any time soon,” said the Unit Nursing Coordinator at Aster Clinic in King Faisal, Sharjah.

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