With no chartered flights yet Indian students explore routes via Sri Lanka Dubai Hong Kong to reach China

With No Chartered Flights Yet, Indian Medical Students Explore Routes Via Sri Lanka, Dubai, Hong Kong to Reach China

After two pandemic-hit years, China has finally opened its borders to Indian students pursuing higher education courses in its universities. After having no luck in making chartered plane arrangements to reach China yet, Indian students are now finding different routes on their own such as via Sri Lanka, Dubai, Hong Kong and Myanmar, among others.

Students who managed to reach China amid the uncertainty are holding interactive sessions on social media for others yet to figure out which route to take.

Sudipti Mundirinti from Mumbai, who is a student at Nanjing Medical University, has reached China via Hong Kong and said, “Even if there was any luck in making arrangements for a chartered flight to China, it would have been expensive. Only the flight would have cost over 1 lakh. Whereas, to travel via Hong Kong, I have paid a little over 50,000 for air tickets. We need to have an extra arrangement of money to adhere to the strict Covid protocol of Hong Kong as well as China because you have to take Covid tests and also pay for the quarantine facility once in China.”

This quarantine expenditure, as Sudipti shared, can vary depending on which city you are landing in and which facility you are taken to. But it is in the range of Rs 2,000 to Rs 6,000 per day.

Even though visas are being issued following no-objection certificates (NOCs) from universities for a return to campus, reaching China is a struggle for students. In the absence of direct flights from India, there was a growing demand from students for the Indian government to arrange for chartered flights.

“But there is no development on that front (chartered flights) yet. Meanwhile, with deadlines to reach the institutes approaching, students have started finding different ways on their own,” said Andrew Mathews, president of the Foreign Medical Graduates Parents Association (FMGPA), which last month wrote to the Union Ministry of External Affairs (MHA), requesting to arrange chartered flights.

According to information provided by Sudipti, one has to have a Covid negative test to land in Hong Kong where one is required to stay for three days to ensure two Covid-negative tests (48 hours and 24 hours) to get the green code and board a flight to China.

“Upon reaching China, for the first 10 days of central quarantine, the administration can allot any available facility and the user has to pay whatever the charges are. For the next seven days of quarantine, one gets to decide on a place. Thankfully, I landed in Nanjing, so I did not need the third stage of quarantine which is for seven days again. This applies to those having to travel within China to reach their university. But since this is made available in the respective university, it is for free,” said Sudipti, who took a flight to Hong Kong from Kochi on September 24 and reached China on September 28.

But this was because Sudipti had no Covid-positive test report throughout the journey. But the luck was not in favour of another student, who wished to remain anonymous. “I was unwell with some vitamin deficiencies. But after having received a no-objection certificate (NOC), visa and even travel tickets, I did not want to miss a chance to resume studies in offline mode in China. But upon reaching Hong Kong, I tested positive for Covid in an immediately-administered rapid antigen test (RAT). Understandably I had to quarantine in Hong Kong in the absence of a green code. It was only after the negative RTPCR report on the following day that my process resumed,” said this student from Delhi.

Meanwhile, the plan to arrange for chartered planes is not completely dissolved. As per information provided by Indian students in China, a collective formed by students to go back to China has contacted Southern Airlines for the arrangement of chartered flights. “But the expense will be more than 10,000 renminbi (rnb) per student which is over Rs 1 lakh. And this will be possible only if we have around 250 students registering for the service,” said Dr Shahroz Khan Sherry, student of the Nantong medical university and all-India students’ coordinator of Indian students in China.

Courtesy : The Indian Express

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