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India initiates drastic steps to contain spread of novel coronavirus, suspends all tourist visas till April 15

The Centre has suspended all tourist visas till April 15 in a bid to contain spread of novel coronavirus. The suspension will come into effect from 1200 GMT on March 13 at the port of departure. The decision was taken at the 6th meeting of group of ministers held in New Delhi under the chairmanship of Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. An official release said, all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International organisations, employment and project visas stand suspended till 15th April 2020. Visa-free travel facility granted to OCI card holders is also kept in abeyance till April 15.

Any foreign national who intends to travel to India for compelling reason may contact the nearest Indian Mission. All incoming travellers, 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.

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.

International traffic through land borders will be restricted to designated check posts with robust screening facilities. These will be notified separately by the Home Ministry.

Provision for testing primarily for students/compassionate cases in Italy to be made and collection 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.

World Health Organization declares Covid-19 as a pandemic

World Health Organization (WHO) has characterised the new coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva that he is alarmed by the spread and severity of the outbreak, along with a lack of action taken to combat it. WHO chief said the number of cases and deaths are likely to rise in the coming days and weeks. He said, WHO has never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus.

UN chief Antonio Guterres has urged world governments to urgently scale up their response to the novel coronavirus if they are to stand a chance of stemming its spread. In a statement, UN Secretary General said, the declaration of coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic is a call to action – for everyone, everywhere. He called on every government to step up and scale up their efforts now. Guterres said, if countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize their people in the response, we can go a long way in mitigating transmission.

News Desk

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