Sunday, November 22, 2020

Woman misses int’l flight over ‘Shimoga’ spelling confusion

Mangaluru: A 47-year-old resident of Thirthahalli who missed her flight to Dubai at the Mangaluru International Airport (MIA) would not be at a loss to answer the oft-bandied query: ‘What’s in a name?’. Chand Begum, taking a flight for the first time, was refused a boarding pass by SpiceJet officials, who cited errors in the Covid-19 negative report, in which the name of the institute was referred to as ‘Shivamogga Institute of Medical Sciences’, whereas the seal impressed to authenticate the document by the district surveillance officer bore the name ‘Shimoga’.

Begum was scheduled to take the Dubai-bound flight from MIA at 1.45am on Saturday, which she was unable to board owing to the inconsistency in the name. Notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, officials from Shivamogga district tried to clarify the mistake to the airline staff. They explained that the institute in question was a government hospital approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), but to no avail.

The passenger had been tested for Covid-19 on November 18, and had received a report confirming she had tested negative for the novel coronavirus the next day. On Friday, Begum left Tirthahalli around 4pm and reached MIA around 10pm. “I was shocked when I was informed that I could not fly. I tried my best to explain the problem, and with the help of my relatives, was able to contact officials in the Shivamogga district administration, who, in their turn tried to convince the staff. Finally, I was compelled to undergo another Covid-19 test at a private hospital in Mangaluru, and the airline staff agreed to accommodate me on the 1.45am flight to Dubai on Sunday,” Begum told STOI.

Begum, who was accompanied to MIA by her brother Zakir Hussain, had to spend the night in the vehicle she had rented to come to Mangaluru.Shivamogga district surveillance officer Basavaraju CS said that, despite the name of the district having been changed officially, the use of Shimoga was still prevalent. “The copy of Begum’s report is even available on government websites,” Basavaraju said.

22/11/20 Kevin Mendonsa/Times of India

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