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Omicron scare: Gokarna’s foreign tourists want visas extended

Express News Service

GOKARNA: The foreign nationals staying in Gokarna have written to the Ministry of Home Affairs seeking extension of their visas, considering the non-availability of flight tickets amid the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Even as the Uttara Kannada district administration asks foreigners staying in Gokarna to leave the country, the latter, who number about 45 in the holy town, have appealed to the MHA to extend their visas, in view of the pandemic.

In a letter dated December 6, 2021, Tatiana Gurries, a phramacist from Arizona in the US, who is learning massage therapy and spiritualism here, has appealed to the MHA to extend their visas for some more time.

“We write this letter as a humble request to consider us to be able to stay here through the coming winter months. It is well known with the recent development with Omicron, that the epidemiological situation is still not over. We wish to consider the safety of others and ourselves with this request,” she wrote in the letter addressed to the MHA, and pointed to the countries — Australia, Russia, Austria, Ukraine and the UK, along with Africa which are battling the Covid situation.

“Considering this, we are asking for your continued assistance during these uncertain times. It is known that visas are getting extended officially in other states of India, by up to 6 months. We hope this extends to Karnataka too for at least another few months, to get us through the winter. If the possibility for spiritual, student, business and other visas are able to be processed while we currently reside in India, this will give us some flexibility on compliance without the risk of travel. It is still dangerous and unadvisable to move out. We are ready to pay any reasonable service tax or visa fees that would be required for us to stay,” said Tatiana, who is co-ordinating on behalf of the foreign nationals here.

This development comes in the wake of strict action taken by the district administration, which had warned some of the foreigners to leave as their visas had expired. “We have deported about five of them, while we have warned others,” said Naveen Naik, Sub-Inspector at Gokarna town Police station. Earlier, the foreigners had also approached the DC of Uttara Kannada, seeking his help. 

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