Wednesday, March 29, 2023 | Ramadan 6, 1444 H
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Expatriates desperately await lifting of travel ban

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Thousands of expatriates are in a bind following the travel ban and suspension of flights between the Sultanate and different South Asian countries as a result of the catastrophic spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

All of them are facing the same ordeal with the main concern being about losing their jobs or businesses. They are now desperately looking forward to the lifting of the entry ban to Oman.

“I am facing multiple challenges after my arrival in India. Not only that I may lose out on my job, but my wife and children are alone back in Oman. My wife was already hit with the pandemic”, said Abdul Samad, who hails from the southern Indian state of Kerala.

The entry ban has come as a major blow to tens of thousands of expatriates who have been hoping to return to their places of work at the earliest.

Sreekumar, who accompanied a sick person to assist him reach India for further treatment, is now stranded in India. “The travel ban came into force a day earlier when I was supposed to travel back. Hope my company will bear with me in this unprecedented situation”, he said, adding, “I am clueless on when to rebook the return ticket”.

Irfan Ahmed, a Pakistani national in a WhatsApp message to Observer, expressed his optimism saying: “I came to Islamabad in March last. Now I too am in the same impasse as many other Pakistanis are facing. I hope at least residents of Oman will be allowed to travel back. There are many like me who are waiting to get back to the country as we are on the verge of losing out to our jobs”, Irfan, a tax expert, said.

With their families split and jobs and businesses at stake, expats are taking to different social media platforms to highlight their plight as a result of the ban on flights to the Sultanate and other countries.

“Please at least announce flights from India to Oman that will resume on any one date... only a few days left for the expiry of visa... When will the flights be restored? I am desperately waiting to reach Oman as my husband is sick there...”, thus go some of the concerns and requests.

The Philippines has also barred entry of travellers from Oman and other Gulf countries as part of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“My parents are seriously sick back in Manila. It's been over two years that I have not visited them. Flights are cancelled to the Philippines due to the coronavirus spread,” said Emmanuel Joseph, a pharmacist.

Currently, there is entry ban on over 15 countries including the UK, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Sudan, Brazil, and Vietnam are banned from entering Oman following a surge in cases in the second wave of Covid-19.

Omani nationals, healthcare workers, diplomats, and their families are exempted from the ban.

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