As the World Health Organisation declares ‘COVID-19’ outbreak a pandemic, the Government of India has suspended all tourist visas and e-visas granted on or before March 11. All incoming visitors including Indian nationals are advised against non-essential travel because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/international organizations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020,” it has said in the statement. The order comes into effect from 1200 GMT on Friday, March 13.
Visas of all foreigners already in India remain valid and they may contact the nearest FRRO/FRO through the e-FRRO module for extension/conversion etc of their visa or grant of any consular service if they choose to do so. A notification to this effect is being issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BOI).
The Visa restrictions related to COVID-19 were issued by Bol in supersession of all earlier advisories issued in this regard. The decisions were a part of the second meeting of the group of ministers (GoM) held under the chairpersonship of Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan.
The recommendations of the Committee of Secretaries chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba were placed before GoM. After detailed deliberations on preventive measures, actions are taken and preparedness for Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), the Group of Ministers took more major decisions.
“Visa-free travel facility granted to Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cardholders shall be kept in abeyance till April 15, 2020. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on March 13, 2020, at the port of departure of any foreigner for onward journey to India. Any foreign national who intends to travel to India for compelling reasons may contact the nearest Indian Mission for a fresh visa,” an official statement said.
Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India: All incoming travelers, including Indians, arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain & Germany after 15th Feb, 2020 shall be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days.— ANI (@ANI) March 11, 2020
India also announced that all incoming travellers, including Indian nationals, arriving from any destination and having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany on or after February 15, 2020, shall be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days with effect from March 13, 2020, at the port of departure of such traveller’s.
“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 Ministry of Home Affairs,” said the statement.
In the meeting, it was also decided that all States and Union Territories should be advised by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to invoke provisions of Section 2 of Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 so that all advisories being issued from time to time are enforceable.
The World Health Organisation has already declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. Soon after the apex health agency declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) after the outbreak started spreading outside Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the virus, countries were free make their own decisions if they want to close their borders, cancel flights, screen people arriving at airports or take other protective measures.
Coronavirus is a deadly respiratory disease which has killed more than 4,600 and so far more than 1,26,0000 cases are reported globally, according to the World Health Organisation. The outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019.
The transmission of the virus takes place when someone who is infected comes in contact with another person. According to medical experts, coughing, sneezing or even shaking hands with an infected person can cause exposure.