According to reports, numerous countries are banning travel from India in response to soaring COVID-19 infection rates, a rising death count, and the discovery of another COVID-19 variant in the region.
BBC News reported late on Thursday that “India will be placed onto the UK’s travel ‘red list’ from 04:00 BST on Friday, effectively banning travel.” This means that legal residents arriving from India must then quarantine in a government-approved hotel.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called India’s addition to the red list a “purely precautionary” step, adding, “What we’re seeing in India is a result of a variant under investigation, it hasn’t yet been deemed a variant of concern — I think that was why there has been the delay.”
“With a severe spike in COVID-19 cases, countries across the world are putting India on their travel ban list. The US, Australia, Hong Kong, the UK, Pakistan and New Zealand have already released fresh travel advisories for their citizens, asking them to avoid travelling to/from India,” noted India Today.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, “Travelers should avoid all travel to India,” with India ranked as the highest “Level 4.”
On Thursday, CBC also reported that Canada would ban flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days, according to sources. The United Arab Emirates has also reportedly suspended flights to India, with Emirates airline suspending all flights from India for 10 days, announcing, “Effective 24 April 2021 and for the next 10 days, Emirates flights from India to the UAE will be suspended. Furthermore, passengers who have transited through India in the last 14 days will not be accepted to travel from any other point to the UAE.”
On Thursday, India broke the world record for most COVID-19 cases recorded in a single day, with fear spreading across the country as a result.
“As the health system breaks down, there are fears that law and order may follow: Oxygen tankers are traveling under police guard to fend off looters. The black market trade in medical equipment has soared,” reported NPR. “Vaccines were stolen Thursday from a hospital warehouse in Haryana – but then the thief returned them hours later, with a note of apology. Police say the thief may have intended to steal anti-viral drugs, which are also in short supply.”
“People are stockpiling oxygen tanks at home, figuring there’s no use in even trying to get into a hospital anymore,” NPR continued, adding that “Social media are full of desperate pleas from Indians seeking hospital beds, oxygen, anti-viral drugs, vaccines. One longtime journalist live-tweeted his declining oxygen levels until he died.”
The new variant discovered in India, named B.1.617, has reportedly “gained ground in the western state of Maharashtra” since December 2020.
According to available COVID-19 data, India leads the world in new cases (332,503), new deaths (2,256), and is second in total cases (16,257,309) to the United States (32,653,788).
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