The dreaded coronavirus has succeeded in taking the shine out of overseas travels.
Air travel has now become extra expensive, very taxing, energy-sapping, risky and nerve-racking.
Once upon a time, travelling to the northern hemisphere or anywhere else was a look forward to. A different destination to stretch, catch one’s breath with a holiday like never before.
The days to travel and see, visit family or friends, attend graduations, conventions, conferences and what have you are waning with corona winds.
March 2020 will go down in history as the year that any enthusiasm in overseas travel froze even before winter hit.
Today, one gets cold feet at the mention of travelling. The mere thought of it scares me. One begins to think about exposure and the risk of getting infected with the virus, the expenses and endless payments to get COVID-19 tests completed, not to mention navigating the meanderings through make-shift structures at airports.
The thought of wearing a face mask continuously for a journey of six or more hours gets burdensome. The idea of sitting so close to someone not of one’s household for hours in an enclosed aircraft, defying social distancing is troubling.
Travelling has just become a big monster in the air and the idea does not appeal like before.
And that is true. One could never imagine it until one gets to plan and actually take to travel. The stresses begin from the day one books the flight. Depending on the destination, the bombardments of expected Covid-19 protocols begin.
The airlines clutter one’s email with all kinds of information on protocols for pre-boarding. Countries of departure also scream hard their terms and conditions. It gets very confusing.
The United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA) have been two preferred destinations by a lot of travellers from this end. Whether it is for family or friends visit, holidays, education, medical, work-related or pure tourism, these two countries top all.
To protect their citizens and indeed travellers entering their countries, almost all countries around the world have put in place stringent measures for travellers to observe.
So gaining entry into a country is not just a valid visa issue. It is now more of negative PCR tests to gain entry.
Traffic light system
And so, for example, the UK has found it necessary to introduce the traffic light system which segregates and places countries in boxes.
By that, if one’s country is positioned in the green light zone, bless you. The signal to you is that you have been good to go with no “pin-me-down” requirements to satisfy. Just go in and stay cautious knowing that we are not in normal times.
If you are in the amber light, as our beloved Ghana is, it means you may enter but with strict obeisance to laid down procedures.
Almost all health authorities require that passengers from other countries go through a PCR test with a negative result at least 72 hours before one arrives in their countries.
But on top of that, being in the UK amber zone also means that one will additionally pay for two PCR tests to be administered on days 2 and 8 on arrival in the UK, a confirmation of which one has to present before boarding an aircraft.
On arrival, a passenger is required to quarantine at the place they are staying for 10 clear days during which UK Health officials will place constant calls and sometimes visit the location to ensure the passenger is available and not “bolted” out.
If your country is in the red zone, your case is completely different. Red really means stop. The message is dare to cross and come but be prepared to pay over two thousand pounds and get quarantined in a designated hotel for 10 days. While there, one also will have to pay for two PCR tests.
Other countries have their own stringent entry rules.
Back home, Ghana’s antigen test on arrival at the Kotoka International Airport seems to be on track. All arriving passengers must take the test and get the results before they are allowed to exit the airport.
Those testing positive for the virus are taken away and quarantined in a hotel for at least three days to receive treatment. In the past, some arriving passengers testing positive have protested fiercely. Unfortunately, that is the rule of the game we are in.
COVID-19 has definitely made overseas travel expensive. The message is if you do not have the time, patience and above all, the funds, forget about overseas travels for now.
The torment of a tiny virus called corona will never be forgotten whether in the air or on the ground. One day, when the story is told of this dreaded virus, air travels will have a dedicated chapter.
It will definitely be a chapter on the worst time in man’s life to travel from one country to another, in an era of fundamental human rights and freedom of movement.
The writer can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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