New Delhi: The COVID-19 free certificate that has been made compulsory for travellers from Italy and South Korea has now become a hurdle for Indian students stranded in Italy. The students claimed that in the absence of a proper testing facility in Italy, they have been forced to wait for about a week to get the certificate and return to India.
Indian students who were in Italy have raised concerns about the way arrangements have been made by the Indian authorities over the certificate.
“We had to first spend two nights at Rome airport before the authorities arranged for a facility for us to stay. They then informed us our samples will be flown to Pune for testing, and the entire process will take about 5-7 days,” Vaishnavi Singh, an undergraduate student of Interior Designing told IANS.
As coronavirus cases rose in India, the Central government on March 5 made a COVID-19 free certificate mandatory for travellers from Italy and South Korea.
According to the additional travel advisory issued by the government, the passengers travelling from Italy and South Korea who want to enter India will have to present a certificate of having tested negative for COVID-19.
The student said the process is even more difficult as no Italian hospital allows anyone to enter inside until they have symptoms of coronavirus, making tests in Italy impossible.
“You can get your tests done in Italy, plus if we want to go for a walk police will arrest us. No one is allowed to walk on the streets unless they have some work,” Vaishnavi Singh said.
Vaishnavi Singh hails from Bengaluru and had reached Italy in the last week of January to pursue an undergraduate degree in interior designing from the Florence Institute of Design International.
According to Vaishnavi Singh, she had spent two nights at the airport waiting for any information or instructions.
“There was no food or water, we relied on vending machines to get our supplies of food and water for two nights,” Vaishnavi Singh said.
Luckily, an Indian residing in Italy had come to her rescue, and around 70 others stranded at the airport.
The Indian national provided them food, clothes and some others even offered money so that the students could manage their expenses for a few days.
Vaishnavi Singh’s views were echoed by most of the Indian students. Most of them sounded worried about coming in contact with the virus due to the long delay in getting the no-COVID 19 certificate.
“Our blood samples have been taken but no one informed us when we will fly back to our country,” another student Elisala Stecy said.
Elisala Stecy belongs to Andhra Pradesh and has been in Italy since September last year.
The long process, wait and no communication from Indian authorities has left her wondering if she will ever leave the country.
Elisala Stecy is a student of Masters in biotechnology in Universita degli studi di roma tor vergata, Rome.
She is currently residing at a PG facility owned by a Pakistani family as she waits for a response from the Indian authorities about the results of her tests.
She had booked her ticket to Delhi from Rome for March 11. But after reaching the airport, authorities told her about the necessity for a COVID-19 free certificate.
This left her stranded at the airport for over 24 hours before she was allowed to go back to her PG accommodation and was told that Indian authorities will communicate with her and over 100 other Indians stranded at the airport.
Coronavirus-battered Italy reported 368 more coronavirus deaths on Sunday, in a new one-day “record”.
The northern region of Lombardy – the country’s worst-affected – accounted for 252 of the fatalities, which have taken the total toll across the nation to over 1,800, the BBC reported.
After China, where the disease broke out in Wuhan city late last year, Italy is the most-affected country, followed by Iran, which reported 113 more deaths, taking the total to 724.