Friday, August 05, 2022

Twins not allowed to board Singapore flight over vax rider in Bengaluru

Bengaluru: Thrilled about their upcoming vacation in Singapore, two brothers from Bengaluru yearned to board the cruise ship offering sports and games for which their dad had purchased tickets. But the twins were left in tears at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) recently when ground staff of Singapore Airlines denied them boarding.

The reason - the twins had taken the Indian-made Corbevax vaccine against Covid-19 which awaits approval from WHO as well as the Singapore government for travel clearance. Nine members of an Agrawal family from Banaswadi reached KIA on the evening of July 25, 2022 all set to fly to Singapore for a weeklong fun-filled holiday. But as they attempted to board Singapore Airlines flight SQ 511, their delight turned into disappointment.

"We were shocked when Singapore Airlines ground staff told us Corbevax given to the twin boys was not approved for travel by the Singapore health department and therefore they won't be allowed to board the flight. All others, including their parents and seven-and-a-half-year-old brother, were cleared," said Pritam Agarwal, recalling the plight of his 12-and-a-half-year-old nephews Ronav and Ronit Agrawal.

As per Singapore's ministry of health rules, Corbevax, an indigenous vaccine developed by Hyderabad-based Biological E Limited, is not among the approved Covid vaccines for international travellers entering the republic. Travellers born on or before December 31, 2009 are mandated to have the proof of Covid-19 vaccination for pre-boarding and immigration checks. Ronav and Ronit, born on December 12, 2009, had taken two doses of Corbevax, a vaccine approved for use by the Indian government for those in the 12 to 14 age group from March 16, 2022. However, the vaccine is yet to receive approval from WHO.

With the boys upset, their father Prabin Kumar Agrawal, a businessman, decided that he would not let them down. "The grandparents and the others continued their trip to Singapore while Prabin and his wife Priya with their three boys, including the twins, booked the next flight to Thailand for a holiday as that country doesn't have such vaccine mandates. The boys were eager to travel and he didn't disappoint them," said Pritam, adding that the family lost over Rs 5 lakh as five members had to forgo their planned trip to Singapore. The family blamed the ticketing agent for failing to inform them about Corbevax not being recognised by Singapore.

05/08/22 Petlee Peter/Times of India

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