India has introduced new visa restrictions, as of March 3, to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Severity: Warning Alert

  • 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
Officials have banned entry through all ports for foreign nationals with a travel history to mainland China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, and Japan, since Feb. 1. Authorities have also suspended electronic visa issuance and online visa applications for passport holders from the same countries; travelers who are also residents of 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. Authorities continue to quarantine passengers, regardless of symptoms, from mainland China in their homes or in a medical facility for at least 14 days, as of March 3. 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; all other passengers are required to sign a health and travel history declaration upon entry into India. Health officials may continue to follow up on passengers from the specified 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 March 3. 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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