The United States Department of State issued a warning Wednesday urging American citizens traveling abroad in India to leave as soon as they are able amid concerns that India’s worsening COVID-19 pandemic has officially become a crisis.
“The high-level travel advisory posted Wednesday noted that ‘access to all types of medical care is becoming severely limited in India due to the surge in Covid-19 cases,'” The Washington Post reported. “U.S. citizens who wish to depart India should take advantage of available commercial transportation options now.”
The State Department suggested that Americans try to book nonstop flights home, stopping in Europe only if other options are unavailable.
“Direct flights between India and the United States are offered daily, with additional flight options available to U.S. citizens via transfers in Paris and Frankfurt,” the State Department noted.
Americans considering traveling to India are urged to postpone their trips.
“The current Level 4 Travel Advisory is the highest level issued by the Department of State and advises U.S. citizens not to travel to India or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so due to the current health situation in country,” the agency concluded, adding that it is currently booking “voluntary departures” for any United States government officials or employees who are working in India. The U.S. Embassy New Delhi and its consulates, the agency said, “remain open and are offering limited consular services.”
India is “shattering” global records for new daily COVID-19 infections, The Hill added in its coverage of the State Department’s warning. On Wednesday alone, India saw “62,757 new cases” of the virus, “pushing its total case count to over 17.9 million. Nearly 3,300 people died on Wednesday.”
India’s government is struggling to manage the crisis. The country’s crematoriums are currently at capacity, leaving families to care for their own dead relatives, and the nation is struggling to correctly allocate medical resources desperately needed to care for COVID-19 patients, like oxygen and doses of the antiviral drug Remdesivir. The country is even having difficulty finding hospital beds.
And experts believe India’s COVID-19 crisis has yet to reach its peak.
Expert commenters point out that India was likely headed toward a pandemic-driven disaster after dramatically underfunding its healthcare infrastructure, quickly imposing — and almost as quickly lifting — “draconian” lockdown measures and failing to plan for a second wave of the virus. The country is also in the grips of political infighting, which seems to be further slowing the government’s pandemic response.
The first of several planned aid flights will leave the United States for India on Thursday, and the U.S. has committed more than $100 million in help to the struggling nation.
“The assistance includes oxygen cylinders, concentrators that obtain oxygen out of the air, 15 million N95 masks, 1 million rapid tests, and experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” The Hill reported. “The U.S. is also sending supplies to help with the manufacturing of over 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
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