The Bureau of Immigration issued new travel restrictions for several countries aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Immigration officials suspended travel from Afghanistan, Philippines, and Malaysia with immediate effect on Tuesday, March 17, through Tuesday, March 31. Officials said that flights from these countries will be suspended after 15:00 (local time) on Tuesday. Additionally, all individuals coming from the European Union (EU), the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland), Turkey, and the UK are prohibited from entering India via air, land, or sea from 17:30 from Wednesday, March 18, through March 31. Previous entry restrictions also remain in place, including:
- All individuals traveling from Italy or South Korea must provide a certificate proving that they have tested negative for COVID-19.
- All individuals that traveled in or from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain, or Germany after Saturday, February 15, must undergo at least a 14-day quarantine from the time of departure.
- All individuals traveling from the UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait must undergo a 14-day quarantine from 17:30 on March 18.
The government previously suspended all tourist visas from Friday, March 13, to Wednesday, April 15, except for diplomatic, official, or UN missions, or for international organization, employment, and project visas. Officials continue to advise against all non-essential travel. All foreigners have been prohibited from entering Sikkim state, while Kerala state has suspended all public functions, closed cinemas and primary schools, and declared a state of high alert.
As of March 17, Ministry of Health officials have confirmed 104 cases of COVID-19 nationwide and three associated fatalities. The highest number of confirmed cases is in Maharashtra state with 36 cases, followed by Kerala with 22 cases. Further spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.