India has been the biggest global hotspot of Covid-19 pandemic for about two weeks. Some countries have responded with restrictions on travel from and to India. New Zealand, Hong Kong and Pakistan have banned travel from India. The UK has put India on a red list after its Prime Minister Boris Johnson called off his April visit in the wake of rising Covid-19 cases in both the countries. The US has issued fresh advisory to its citizens for a trip to India.
COVID-19 SURGE AND TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS ON INDIA: 10 POINTS
India suspended international flight operations in March 2020 as Covid-19 spread to all parts of the world after breaking out from Wuhan in China at least four earlier. India launched special flight missions to bring back stranded citizens from other parts of the world. Regular international flight operations remained largely suspended for most of 2020.
When the Covid-19 situation showed signs of easing out in India and other parts of the world, the Indian government went into what has been named “air bubble” agreements with several countries. In all, India struck air bubble deals with 27 countries (as of now) including the US, the UK, France, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, Russia, Qatar and the UAE. Some of these countries saw Covid-19 positivity among passengers coming from India. The presence of the double mutant Indian variant of SARS-CoV-2 forced these countries to revisit their travel guidelines.
As of now, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Pakistan, the US and the UK have imposed travel restrictions on India. These restrictions are not of the same nature as before.
New Zealand imposed a ban on any travel from India after it detected 23 Covid-19 cases among passengers flying from outside earlier this month. Of them 17 were positive for the Indian variant of SARS-CoV-2. This led to a travel ban being imposed on India.
Hong Kong clubbed India with Philippines and Pakistan as “high-risk” places for Covid-19 spread and imposed a 14-day travel ban on these countries. Those who spend more than two hours even during transit in India and the two other countries are barred from travelling to Hong Kong for 14 days.
Pakistan on Monday put India in Category-C list of the countries over the spike in Covid-19 cases, banning travel to and from India. Last week more than 800 pilgrims went to Pakistan from India on the occasion of Baishakhi.
The UK put India on the “red list” of countries affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. This came after Boris Johnson called off his April visit to India for summit-level bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The UK’s travel restriction order means that only British citizens can travel from India to the country. Others are barred from visiting the UK from India.
The US issued a warning on Monday to its citizens who have planned a trip to India. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told US citizens to avoid all travel to India. “If you must travel to India, get fully vaccinated before travel,” said the CDC adding, even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading variants spreading Covid-19 in India. This came a day after the US said it would advise its citizens to avoid travel to roughly 80 per cent of the world.
The travel advisories asking people to skip India from their tour plans have come in the wake of India being gripped by a stronger second wave of Covid-19 pandemic. India has reported more than 2 lakh daily Covid-19 cases for six days. Its active caseload is double the peak it saw during the first wave of the pandemic last year.
Several countries have claimed that travellers from India were found positive for Covid-19 on arrival despite boarding the flight with a “negative” certificate. Canada recently said that about one-third of the passengers who arrived in the country between March 3 and 19 and tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival were from Delhi. Authorities in Hong Kong last year raised a similar complaint alleging that flight operators from India transported Covid-19 positive passengers to the city.