India expands health screenings and travel restrictions for passengers from countries affected by COVID-19 as of March 2.

Severity: Warning Alert

This alert began 02 Mar 2020 07:35 GMT and is scheduled to expire 09 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Enhanced health screenings, travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Flight disruptions, longer immigration wait times, quarantine measures; possible commercial disruptions

Summary
India has bolstered measures to prevent and control the spread of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In addition to issuing advisories - against travel to China, and non-essential travel to Iran, Italy, Singapore, and South Korea - Indian authorities have enhanced visa and entry restrictions as of March 2.

Officials have banned entry through all ports for foreign nationals with a travel history to mainland China since Jan. 15, and to Iran since Feb. 1. Authorities have also suspended electronic visa issuance and online visa applications for passport holders from Iran, Japan, mainland China, and South Korea; travelers with current residential addresses in mainland China will also be affected by the restriction. All previously granted electronic and regular visas stand canceled for the mentioned travelers; applicants must undergo health certification and appear in person at an Indian consulate to apply or reapply for a visa.

Officials have enhanced health checks at all air, sea, and land ports. As of Feb. 5, all passengers from mainland China, regardless of symptoms, will be quarantined at home or in a medical facility for at least 14 days. Authorities are carrying out enhanced health monitoring for passengers with a travel history to Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam; other affected countries may be included in the future. Health officials may continue to follow up on passengers from these countries, typically by phone, for up to the first 28 days of their stay in India. Symptomatic passengers will be subject to further checks and possible quarantine.

Officials have mandated indefinite flight suspensions to and from Iran, as of Feb. 28. At least two Indian air carriers - Air India and IndiGo Airlines - have suspended flight operations to mainland China and Hong Kong until June 30 and June 14, respectively. Low demand has also caused cancellations of flights between India and affected countries such as Singapore and Thailand. Further flight disruptions are possible, especially on routes with countries affected by COVID-19.

India could expand its response in the coming days, particularly if the number of in-country cases increases. The measures are unlikely to impact most travelers, except for passengers from affected countries, especially mainland China, and those with flu-like symptoms. Increased health screenings are likely to result in increased wait times at international airports and some land border crossings.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Confirm entry requirements, visa validity, and travel reservations before checking out of accommodation, if traveling from mainland China or any other country affected by the COVID-19. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings at all ports of entry. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with the COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Help Page: mohfw.gov.in
Bureau of Immigration: boi.gov.in

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