While India is lauded for its quick response to contain the outbreak of COVID-19, immigration department at airports has witnessed some feisty arguments owing to shortage of staff as well as non-cooperation from a few passengers. While patience is key while undergoing the thermal screening process and if suspected with any symptoms, while waiting for the allotment of the place of quarantine, few passengers have taken to Twitter to complain about the delay.
Several videos have surfaced online from Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, from March 16 showcasing hectic parleys being exchanged at the immigration counter. Passengers travelling from Paris and Frankfurt onboard AI 142 and AI 120 respectively were made to wait for four hours owing to shortage staff and the humongous task of assigning quarantine facilities to the passengers who were found with certain symptoms. The passengers were heard demanding their passports back as the delay happened for over four hours.
Delhi airport spokesperson spoke to Republic TV over the videos and said "these are from March 16 when passengers from respective Air India flights from Frankfurt and Paris landed and created a storm over allocation of quarantine facilities. We have taken care of the complaints and have tried to fix all the issues at the earliest. Now there is no chaos at immigration counters."
“We have to cooperate with the system in place but patience wears off when during the crisis, such massive delays take place. The Indian government is proactively executing the necessary actions but some drawbacks can’t be overlooked like long queues, clueless officials on duty. We are in-home quarantine now,” said a passenger who came from Paris and was present during the ruckus at the Delhi international airport.
“We were made to stand twice in the queue for the declaration form. When asked to carry out the process quickly, the doctor didn’t pay much heed. We didn’t receive any food and there were some elderly people who, despite being prioritised for screening, had to wait eventually,” narrated another passenger who was onboard AI 120 flight from Frankfurt.
A self-declaration form has to be stamped at the medical counter to get clearance from immigration. Only after standing in the queue for at least 15 minutes were passengers informed that for the notified countries they had to approach different counters. Now, these counters were meant for passengers arriving from 18 countries including China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Italy, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nepal, Taiwan, Macau, Germany, France, Spain and USA.