By George Joseph
The outbreak of latest Covid-19 variant Omicron seems to be a new nightmare for students and various travel businesses across the UK.
“I have never celebrated a Christmas in my life without my family“, says Dimeji, a postgraduate student at Ayr Campus, UWS. Augustine, a student at University of Stirling,also has concerns. He says, “Rules and regulations are unpredictable these days because of the pandemic.”
The new variant was first found in South Africa later in November. Since then it is spreading into more countries all around the world including countries like The UK, Germany, Portugal and India.
At least 24 countries have now reported cases of omicron and the WHO expects that number to grow.
The situation in the UK is under control for now according to health experts. But the UK government and professionals from various health sectors are taking extreme care and observing the situation. As per the report of UK Health Security Agency, there are 26 new cases in the country. It adds to a total of 160 cases.
The Western nations were getting relaxed after a long period of lock down, travel restrictions and so on during the summer 2021. Most of the countries removed international travel ban. But as the outbreak of the new covid-19 variant, restrictions on travel are back. The UK also warns its citizens and introduces new travel restrictions to fight the omicron variant.
Scotland has announced a list of highly affected countries. The red list includes 11 countries. People who travel from these countries are required to quarantine in a pre-booked hotel.
The restrictions are affecting the international students. Many of the international students planned to travel to their home countries during the holidays. Dimeji, a postgraduate student at Ayr Campus, UWS booked his tickets to Nigeria to meet his family and celebrate Christmas there. But due to the unexpected travel regulations he now cancelled his trip.
Augustine is a postgraduate student in University of Sterling also had plans to travelling to India during this Christmas. He changed his mind even though India is not on the red list. ” Rules and regulations are unpredictable these days because of the pandemic”, he says.
The new variant had also affected the travel business. The business was getting back on the track since a few months. Geogy, a travel ticket booking agent told that ” she was very happy that most of the people got vaccinated and travel restrictions are eased. But due to the spread of new omicron virus, many of her customers cancelled their trip and requested a refund.” She doesn’t know when can her business recover from the losses!
The latest report from James P Mahon for ITV also illustrates the struggles that international students and travel businesses in Scotland face.