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As COVID-19 cases soar, US asks its citizens to leave India for the second time in a week

Noting that Americans are reporting being denied admittance to hospitals in some cities due to a lack of space, Washington has again asked its citizens to leave India as soon as it is safe to do so. The latest alert comes less than a week after the US announced a travel advisory against visiting India.

April 29, 2021 / 11:04 AM IST
Representational image

Representational image

Taking note of the quickly rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country, the United States has asked its citizens to take advantage of commercial flights that are still returning and leave the country. India has recorded more than 3 lakh cases for 8 straight days, with the number of new cases touching nearly 3.8 lakh on April 28.

"Access to all types of medical care is becoming severely limited in India due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.  U.S. citizens who wish to depart India should take advantage of available commercial transportation options now," the health alert issued by the US State Department in the early hours on April 29 said.

It reminded American citizens that direct flights between India and the United States are offered daily, with additional flight options available to US citizens via transfers in Paris and Frankfurt.

The alert is the second advisory from the US on India in less than a week. On April 23, the US Department of State had issued a Level 4 travel advisory against all travel to India, while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice.

The latest alert says that new cases and deaths from COVID-19 have risen sharply throughout India to record levels and the subsequent toll on the health infrastructure has become too great for it to cope with.

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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.

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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.

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"COVID-19 testing infrastructure is reportedly constrained in many locations. Hospitals are reporting shortages of supplies, oxygen, and beds for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related patients.  US citizens are reporting being denied admittance to hospitals in some cities due to a lack of space," it said.

It also warned US citizens of the series of lockdowns, curfews and other restrictions limiting movement enacted by many States.

The current Level 4 Travel Advisory is the highest level issued by the Department of State and advises US citizens not to travel to India, or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so, due to the prevailing health situation in the country.

It should be noted here that most nations are set to fall under the category soon. Earlier this week, the US State Department said it would boost its "Do Not Travel" guidance to about 80 percent of countries worldwide, citing "unprecedented risk to travelers" from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This update will result in a significant increase in the number of countries at Level 4: Do Not Travel, to approximately 80% of countries worldwide," the department had said in a statement. As of now, around 34 nations are listed as Level 4.
Subhayan Chakraborty
first published: Apr 29, 2021 11:02 am

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