India widens entry ban, suspends visas for travelers from more countries March 3 to limit the spread of COVID-19. Health screenings ongoing.

Severity: Warning Alert

This alert began 04 Mar 2020 04:57 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 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
On March 3, India expanded an entry ban to include foreign nationals who have traveled to Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan, and mainland China since Feb. 1 to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Officials have suspended visas and visa issuance for citizens, residents, and foreign travelers from these countries. Applicants must undergo health certification and appear in person at an Indian consulate to apply or reapply for a visa. Visas for travelers already in the country remain valid.

Officials have enhanced health checks at all air, sea, and land ports. Authorities continue to quarantine passengers from mainland China, regardless of symptoms, as of March 3; passengers must remain in their homes or a medical facility for at least 14 days after arrival. Officials are carrying out enhanced health monitoring for passengers with a travel history to Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. Health staff 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. All other passengers are required to sign a health and travel history declaration upon entry into India. Symptomatic passengers will be subject to further checks and possible quarantine.

Officials have suspended flights to and from Iran indefinitely. At least two Indian air carriers - Air India (AI) and IndiGo Airlines (6E) - have suspended flight operations to mainland China and Hong Kong until June 30 and June 14, respectively. AI has also reduced flights on routes to affected countries, including Japan, South Korea, and northern Italy. Low demand has also caused flight cancellations 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 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 COVID-19. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings at all ports of entry. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with 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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