Given that all my family lives in India, I have been following the COVID-19 developments fairly closely. India’s response to the pandemic has been measured and calculated. Today’s announcement of the Revised Advisory for Travel to India  seems to reflect that the emergency response has shifted gears rather intensely, with blanket suspension of Visas for Indian and foreign nationals. The new travel restrcitions from India will come into effect on March 13, 2020.  Airlines will certainly respond to this revised advisory by reducing the frequency of flight services to the country, I expect announcements will start flowing in the next few hours.

Here is the excerpt from the revised advisory, from the Consulate General of India in Toronto;


Revised Advisory for Travel to India

In the wake of Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), Government of India has taken the following decisions:

  • All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International Organizations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till 15 April 2020. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13 March 2020 at the port of departure.

  • Visa free travel facility granted to OCI card holders is kept in abeyance till 15 April 2020. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13 March 2020 at the port of departure.

  • Any foreign national who intends to travel to India for compelling reason may contact the nearest Indian Embassy / High Commission / Consulate.

  • All incoming travellers, including Indian nationals, arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after 15 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 the 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.

 

As of today, India has officially confirmed 68 cases of COVID-19 in the country. While the travel advisory falls short of an outright ban, the Health Ministry in India has tagged the advisory as a precautionary measure, one that clearly discourages Indian nationals from undertaking any non-essential travel to/from India. Anyone with a compelling reason to travel has been asked to contact the nearest Indian mission for further advice.

As I am writing this post, Mr. Trump has announced suspension of all travel from Europe (except UK) to US. Tom Hanks has contracted the virus, and NBA has suspended the season. I can’t keep up. Bonkers.

 

Featured Image: Coronavirus has no race, by visuals on Unsplash