Kiwis in India still allowed to fly here under tough new travel rules are facing fresh hurdles in their bid to escape from the Covid-ravaged country.
Auckland father Siva Vemuri is desperately trying to reunite his family spread between New Zealand and the subcontinent.
It comes as a fresh wave of Covid-19 has been devastating India.
Intensive care units are full, medical oxygen is in short supply as the virus continues to spread, with more than 2000 deaths and 350,000 new Covid cases being reported each day.
Australia yesterday followed New Zealand’s lead and suspended all flights to and from India until May 15 amid escalating concerns over the country’s Covid-19 situation.
Vemuri travelled with wife Sujatha Sunkara to India on February 14 to visit her ill father, but sadly her 83-year-old dad died of a stroke the day before they arrived.
The couple was due to fly home on April 19 and had their MIQ stay booked but was unable to return due to New Zealand’s temporary suspension on flights from India from April 11.
That ban lifts at midnight tonight but new travel rules then come into force which mean only New Zealand citizens and their parents, partners and children will be able to come home from four high-risk countries – India, Brazil, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea.
Permanent New Zealand residents will not be able to travel directly here from those nations.
Vemuri was excited that he and his wife would be allowed into New Zealand under the changes but is now navigating a new hurdle following the United Arab Emirates’ 10-day suspension on arrivals from India, which has severed a major route home – via Dubai – for New Zealand bound travellers.
It is understood that Doha – another hub used by travellers flying on Qatar Airways to get to New Zealand – may allow people from India to transit as long as they present a negative Covid-19 test.
Vemuri remains determined to do everything he can to get his tight-knit whānau back together.
He is researching other routes home and has contacted embassies in the respective countries involved, asking for help.
Vemuri said the situation is “horrible”.
“I’m doing everything I can. In one way, my kids are alone, in the other way, my wife is not keeping well.”
The couple’s next confirmed flight home is on May 10 via Dubai, dependent on the UAE not extending its flight suspension longer.
“I don’t know what to do. [I’m] doing my best to unite [us] together.”
To compound the issue, the couple has used up all their annual leave and are no longer receiving wages.
“I’m not getting any pay because I don’t get any leave. I’m not sure if my job will be there or not?”
Another Auckland man is in a similar situation.
His plans to relocate his family home from Delhi were dashed by the New Zealand Government’s April 11 temporary India arrivals suspension – and now he is waiting for the Dubai route to reopen to India arrivals.
“As soon as the travel between these countries [is possible], then we will come home.
“You have to take it one day at a time,” said the man, who did not wish his name to be published.
He said the situation is stressful but he is optimistic and relieved the New Zealand Government is now allowing citizens arriving from India to come home.
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