Indonesia will stop issuing visas for foreigners who have been in India in the past 14 days to prevent the spread of different coronavirus strains, a government minister said on Friday.
The list of countries blocking flights from India is getting longer by the day as the country continues to report a record number of daily infections, hit hard by the second coronavirus wave.
India on April 23 reported 332,730 cases over the past 24 hours, the second consecutive day that new cases topped 3 lakh. The record surge has taken the country’s total tally to 16,263,695 (1.62 crore), data from the Union Health Ministry shows.
The rise in infections has pushed up the death toll 186,920, with a record 2,263 fatalities reported in the last 24 hours, the data shows. Active cases increased to 2,428,616 (24.28 lakh) comprising 14.93 percent of total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has further slipped to 83. 92 percent.
The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 13,648,159 (1.36 crore), while the case fatality rate has dropped to 1.15 percent, the data says.
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Following the surge and the fear that travellers may carry the infection, the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, UAE, Kuwait, Indonesia and Australia have banned flights from India. France has imposed mandatory quarantine for Indian passengers and the United States’ Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has advised against travel to India.
Here is all you need to know to know about the flight ban, restrictions:
>> Kuwait: Kuwait on April 24 suspended all direct commercial flights coming from India until further notice due to the worsening COVID-19 situation in the country. The move came after instructions from health authorities.
Kuwait's directorate general of civil aviation said that it had suspended all direct commercial flights coming from India, effective April 24. All passengers arriving from India either directly or via another country will be banned from entering unless they have spent at least 14 days out of India, it said in a statement on Twitter.
Kuwaiti citizens, their first degree relatives and their domestic workers will be allowed to enter the country. Operations of freight flights will continue, it said.
Over one million Indian community members live in Kuwait, the largest expatriate community in the country, according to the Indian Embassy in Kuwait.
>> Australia: The south Pacific country has added India to its "red list" of high-risk countries. This was announced by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on April 22.
The restrictions include flights to and from India to Australia, even for those wanting to travel for weddings and funerals, reports said.
>> Canada: Canada's government said it would temporarily bar passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days starting on April 22 as part of stricter measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's centre-left leaning government acted after prominent right-leaning politicians complained Ottawa had not done enough to combat a third wave of infections ripping through Canada.
The ban, which takes effect at 11.30 pm (0330 GMT Friday), will not affect cargo flights.
>> Indonesia: Indonesia will stop issuing visas for foreigners who have been to India in the past 14 days to prevent the spread of different coronavirus strains, a government minister said on April 23.
The country’s chief economic minister Airlangga Hartarto said the government decided to stop issuing visas to foreigners who have lived or visited India in the past 14 days based on observations of the impact of a "double mutant" strain of COVID-19 in India and the south Asian country’s health crisis situation.
The curbs follow the arrival in Indonesia of a chartered flight from Chennai carrying 129 people, 12 of whom tested positive for COVID-19. Samples had been taken for genomic sequencing, health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said.
Indonesians arriving from India will be allowed to enter but must follow stricter health protocols and quarantine.
>> The United Arab Emirates (UAE): The UAE’s ban comes into effect from 11.59 pm on April 24 and will be reviewed after 10 days, reports have said.
While this rule will not be applicable to UAE nationals and diplomats, any Indian or a passenger who has travelled through India in the past 14 days will also not be allowed to fly into the Emirate from any other international destination.
According to Khaleej Times, people are barred from booking flights from the UAE to Indian destinations after April 24 on the Emirates, Etihad, flydubai and Air Arabia websites.
>> The United Kingdom: The UK added India to its travel "red list" on April 19. The announcement was made by the country's Health Secretary Matt Hancock hours after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled his visit to India.
The UK "red list" includes 39 countries along with India. It denies entry to anyone who has visited the listed nations in the past 10 days. The only exception is for British and Irish citizens, who are allowed to return, but will have to undergo mandatory 10 days quarantine from time of arrival.
India is added to the list effectively from 4 am today (April 23). Hancock said reason for this was because 103 COVID-19 cases of the "Indian variant" – B.1.617 – have now been found in the UK.
The move is expected to significantly hurt the business operations of Air India and Vistara—the two airlines operating a number of planes between the UK and India.
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>> Hong Kong: The city has intermittently banned flights from India, the latest ban will be in effect till May 3. The decision came after a Vistara flight from Delhi had 47 passengers testing positive after landing. Some tested positive while in quarantine.
Prior to this, between August and November 2020, flights from India were banned four times as passengers were found to be COVID-positive.
The incidents also brought to question the efficacy of RT-PCR tests, as all passengers were expected to carry a negative report to be allowed boarding.
>> New Zealand: In the case of New Zealand, the ban came in on April 8 after 17 of the new 23 cases were reported were from India. This was alarming as the country had not reported any local case for about 40 days before this.
This is the first time that New Zealand has imposed a temporary ban on the entry of travellers from India, including its citizens. The ban, from April 11 to 28, was announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
>> France: The European nation on April 21 announced that it will impose a 10-day quarantine for travellers arriving from India in the coming days to prevent the spread of a worrying COVID-19 variant that is hammering India.
The move comes a few days after Paris announced a ban on all flights from Brazil to stave off the P1 coronavirus variant, and required quarantines for passengers on flights from Argentina, Chile and South Africa.
"India will be added to this list," Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said. He added that details of the travel restrictions to be unveiled in the coming days.
>> United States of America: The United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a travel advisory to all its citizens to avoid travel to India amid the rising COVID-19 infections in the country.
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"Travellers should avoid all travel to India," the advisory said. "Because of the current situation in India even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to India."
It advised getting vaccinated in case of necessary travel to India.
>> Ukraine: Ukraine also banned the arrival of non-Ukrainian from India from May 2. This was communicated by the deputy health minister.
These decision have not come as a surprise for industry observers who expected international flights to and from India to get more restricted as a resurgent second wave of making governments in several countries wary.
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They expect more governments to announce flight bans or travel advisories, unless there is a dramatic arrest in cases in India. "Nearly all international flights out of India, have at least one case of an infected passenger," a senior industry executive told Moneycontrol.
India has air bubble arrangements with 28 countries.
On April 23, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a video meeting with chief ministers of 10 states with the most number of COVID-19 cases.
Chief ministers of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi are among those who attended the meeting.
Later in the day, Modi will hold a meeting with leading oxygen manufacturers in the country via video conference amid concerns expressed by some states that their supply of the life-saving gas is running short with a number of hospitals sending out SOS.Follow our full COVID-19 coverage here