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Coronavirus: India suspends visas till April 15

by PTI

Government strongly advises people to postpone travel abroad

 An Indian medical officer offers hand sanitizer to a child during an awareness campaign against a new virus at a train station in Bangalore on, March 11, 2020. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. (AP)

New Delhi: India on Wednesday suspended all visas, except a few categories such as diplomatic and employment, till April 15 in a bid to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, according to an official statement.

The government also “strongly advised” Indians to avoid all non-essential travel abroad.

The suspension will come into effect from 1200 GMT on March 13 at the port of departure.

Visas of all foreigners already in India remain valid.

The decisions were taken at a meeting of a group of ministers held here under the chairmanship of Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.

Following the meeting, the Bureau of Immigration in a statement said, “All existing visas issued to nationals of any country, except those issued to diplomats, officials, UN/International organizations, employment and project visas, stand suspended till April 15th, 2020. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on March 13th, 2020 at the port of departure of any foreigner for onward journey to India.”

Visa-free travel facility granted to Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cardholders is also kept in abeyance till April 15, according to a similar official statement.

Any foreign national who intends to travel to India for compelling reason may contact the nearest Indian Mission, the release said, adding that all incoming travelers, including Indian nationals, arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain, and Germany after February 15 will be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days.

The government advised the incoming travelers, including Indian nationals, to avoid non-essential travel and told them that they can be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days on their arrival in India.

“Indian nationals are strongly advised to avoid all non-essential travel abroad. On their return, they can be subjected to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days,” it said.

International traffic through land borders will be restricted to designated check posts with robust screening facilities. These will be notified separately by the ministry of home affairs, the release said.

Provision for testing primarily for students/compassionate cases in Italy to be made and collected for samples to be organized accordingly.

Those tested negative will be allowed to travel and will be quarantined on arrival in India for 14 days, the press release said.

The second meeting of the group of ministers was attended among others by ministers Hardeep S Puri (Civil Aviation), S Jaishankar (External Affairs), Nityananda Rai (MoS Home), Mansukh Mandaviya (MoS Shipping) and Ashwini Kumar Choubey (MoS Health).

The GOM discussed the recommendations made by the Committee of Secretaries chaired by the Cabinet Secretary and took the latest decisions, the release added.

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