Coronavirus outbreak: Few Indian students abroad return, several stranded

Updated: 14 March, 2020 07:25 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

Collegians are also worried about delays and how they will finish their courses

An empty supermarket in Dublin
An empty supermarket in Dublin

Yash Vora, pursuing his Masters in Marketing at the University College Dublin (UCD) in Ireland, got lucky as he had plans to come back to India for a short break even as the Coronavirus pandemic hit the country.

Drishti Chamu Singh Rana, on the other hand, studying at the same university, has decided to stay amid lack of clarity over the remainder of her course. These are just two of the many Indian students pursuing studies at international universities, forced into disarray by the pandemic.

Jitendra Kumar, on the other hand, is stuck in Rome where he is studying aerospace engineering. While Vora is going to finish the rest of his course online, Kumar, who is studying at the Sapienza University, is not able to procure the medical certificate deeming him free of COVID-19. The Indian government has made it mandatory for returnees to provide proof of being free of the virus.

Students stranded in Italy seen sleeping at an airportStudents stranded in Italy seen sleeping at an airport

Apart from surviving amid depleting essential commodities, many are also worried about how this would change the fee structure of their courses. With most universities moving to the digital mode to undertake the courses, students are upset about the change.

"The government in Italy is busy fighting COVID-19. They don't have time to certify us as medically fit to travel to India. But it is getting difficult to survive in Rome. There is no food available. One supermarket opens for some time in the afternoon. How much can you stock up?," Kumar said.

He has some hope as the Indian government has decided to send a team to Italy to test citizens. "But I don't know how effective this plan is. The test will be done at the Indian embassy and results would take seven days to come. What if I get infected during my travel to the embassy? They should do the tests here and give results as soon as possible to make this effective," he said.

Drishti Chamu Singh Rana, who is staying put in DublinDrishti Chamu Singh Rana, who is staying put in Dublin

Rana too is dealing with food shortages in Dublin. "I don't know if regular classes will resume after March 26. Hence, I am staying put. However, even basic necessities like food and milk are unavailable. I stocked up on many things two week ago, but soon it will get over," said Drishti who is waiting for clarity on her course from the coordinator.

"Not only classes but the assessments and evaluation will also be done online. My regular course has suddenly turned into an online course because of Coronavirus," Vora said.

A student from Nagpur, Gourav Dongre, got out of Italy just before the Indian government made it mandatory for flyers to be screened. "I am lucky that I quickly decided to return," he said. Many of his acquaintances, who rushed to the airport to come to India, got stuck after the travel advisory took effect and have been living at the airport. "Indian government should promptly rescue them," he said.

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First Published: 14 March, 2020 07:15 IST

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