To tackle Coronavirus pandemic, India suspends all tourist visas till April 15
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New Delhi: As World Health Organisation on Wednesday characterized Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) as a pandemic, India suspended all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International Organizations, employment, project visas, till 15th April 2020.
The Indian government also kept in abeyance visa free travel facility granted to OCI card holders till April 15th 2020.
According to the WHO, in the past two weeks, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China had increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries had tripled – “There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives.”
The WHO Director-General Dr. Tedhros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, however, stated on Wednesday that “just looking at the number of cases and the number of countries affected does not tell the full story. Of the 118,000 cases reported globally in 114 countries, more than 90 percent of cases are in just four countries, and two of those – China and the Republic of Korea – have significantly declining epidemics. 81 countries have not reported any cases, and 57 countries have reported 10 cases or less.”
In India, the Ministry of Health and Family Affairs confirmed 60 COVID-19 cases as on Wednesday at 5.30 p.m. Kerala with 17 confirmed cases among Indian nationals topped the chart, followed by Uttar Pradesh (9), Delhi (5), Karnataka (4), Maharashtra and Laddakh (2 each), and Telangana, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir (1 case each). Haryana and Rajasthan respectively had confirmed cases of 14 and 2 foreign nationals infected with COVID-19 virus.
In New Delhi, a high level Group of Ministers reviewed the current status, and actions for prevention and management of COVID-19 on Wednesday and it further took the following decisions aimed at containing the pandemic:
– All incoming travellers, including Indian nationals, arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after 15th February, 2020 shall be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure.
– Incoming travellers, including Indian nationals, are advised to avoid non-essential travel and are informed that they can be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days on their arrival in India.
Indian nationals are strongly advised to avoid all non-essential travel abroad. On their return, they can be subjected to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.
– International traffic through land borders will be restricted to Designated check posts with robust screening facilities. These will be notified separately by Ministry of Home Affairs.
– Provision for testing primarily for students/compassionate cases in Italy to be made and collection for samples to be organized accordingly. Those tested negative will be allowed to travel and will be quarantined on arrival in India for 14 days.
The Indian government has advised foreign nationals who intend to travel to India for compelling reason to contact the nearest Indian Mission.