The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on January 28 extended the ongoing travel and visa restrictions on international commercial passenger services till February 28, 2021, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.However, the DGCA exempted international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by it earlier.
— DGCA (@DGCAIndia) January 28, 2021
Apart from this, the aviation regulator will allow international scheduled flights on selected routes on a case-to-case basis.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Earlier on December 30, the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation extended the ban on international flights further by a month, till January 31, 2021.
However, the DGCA had maintained that cargo flights and limited international flights under bubble arrangement will continue.
India had banned international travel in end-March, coinciding with a similar restriction on domestic operations, and the national lockdown. Though it resumed domestic flights in May, international travel remained suspended as COVID-19 cases remained at high levels.
Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Ministry informed that 15,147 repatriation flights were operated by the Air India Group under the Vande Bharat Mission till January 26, carrying over 20.42 lakh passengers. Of these, 7,572 were inbound flights carrying 12.18 lakh passengers and 7,575 were outbound flights with 8.24 lakh fliers.The ministry further stated that the Vande Bharat Mission is in Phase 8 which will continue until March 28, 2021.