Coronavirus: 76-year-old dies, India confirmed cases rise to 79

Friday, 13 Mar, 2020

Indians planning to go overseas have been forced to cancel their plans as they are told to avoid all non-essential travel.

India started evacuating nationals from COVID-19 affected countries on February 21.

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).

As of now, 73 cases are confirmed for COVID-19.

Any foreign national wishing to travel to India for compelling reasons may contact the nearest Indian Mission.

However, it has said that even those allowed in could be subject to 14 days of quarantine and has warned against "non-essential travel". The decision was taken during a review meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, ANI reported.

The visa suspension begins March 13 at 12:00 p.m. local time at the port of departure, the statement read.

However, diplomatic visas, official visas, visas by the United Nations or other worldwide organisations, and employment and project visas are not included in this but these categories too will have to get tested themselves as and when needed.

While the majority of COVID-19 cases have been in China - which shares a border with India - the number of new infections has steadied there.

The government has advised Indian citizens to refrain from travelling to France, Spain and Germany.

In the wake of coronavirus being declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, ministry officials said coronavirus is hard to isolate and developing a vaccine will take at least one-and-a-half to two years.

Foreigners already in India with valid visas are unaffected by the new requirements. "But we're working with many partners across all sectors to mitigate the social and economic consequences of this COVID19 pandemic", the World Health Organization said, adding, "We have made the assessment that COVID19 can be characterised as a pandemic". The government said worldwide cruise ships will be allowed only at ports having thermal screening facilities for passengers and crew members. "We already have around 1 lakh testing kits available, additional testing kits have already been ordered and they are also in procurement", he stated at the press conference. Rajasthan, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab have reported one case each, the ministry said, adding Kerala has till now reported 17 cases, including the three patients who were discharged last month following recovery.

Health secretary Preeti Sudan apprised the GoM that the states/UTs are advised to do rigorous IEC (Information, Education and Communication) and make people aware about the precautions, symptoms and helpline numbers.