Indian officials suspend visas for travelers from France, Spain, and Germany March 11. Other travel restrictions, health screenings ongoing.

Severity: Warning Alert

This alert began 10 Mar 2020 19:40 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 Apr 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
Effective March 11, Indian officials are suspending visas previously issued to French, German, and Spanish nationals. Foreign nationals with travel history to Germany, France, or Spain prior to Feb. 1 will also have their visas invalidated. Indian officials had previously 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 coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Officials have suspended visas and visa issuance for citizens, residents, and foreign travelers from these affected countries. Applicants from affected areas who wish to travel to India must undergo health certification and appear in person at an Indian consulate to apply or reapply for a visa; however, visas for foreign nationals already in India 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 10; passengers must remain in their homes or a medical facility for at least 14 days after arrival. Officials are universally screening all international passengers and carrying out enhanced health monitoring for passengers with a travel history to affected areas, including Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Germany, France, Spain, 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. Indian authorities have expanded land border closures with Bangladesh and Myanmar; international transit will be temporarily suspended at Moreh of Manipur State, and limited at Mizoram State. Northeastern states such as Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, and Sikkim are also restricting entry for foreigners and Indian residents from other states.

Authorities 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. Multiple Indian carriers have also stopped flights to Qatar following a March 9 travel ban on Indian nationals. Precautionary measures and low demand has caused additional flight cancellations between India and affected countries, such as Japan, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand. Further flight disruptions are possible, especially on routes with countries affected by COVID-19.

India has also expanded in-country measures such as limited screening of domestic air passengers, advisories to minimize public gatherings, school closures in Delhi, Kerala, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. As of March 11, the government is advising Indian nationals to avoid all travel to mainland China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, France, Germany, and Japan, as well as nonessential travel to other COVID-19-affected countries. Additional measures could be introduced in the coming days, particularly if the number of in-country cases increases. Passengers from affected countries and those with flu-like symptoms are especially likely to be impacted. 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 to India from any 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. Plan for commercial disruptions due to shipping delays; seek alternative shipping routes or methods for time-sensitive consignments.

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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