India Suspends All Tourist Visas Till April 15 Over Coronavirus: 10 Facts

Altogether, 67 people have contracted the virus -- a chunk of them are a group of tourists from Italy.

Highlights

  • The World Health Organisation declared coronavirus a pandemic
  • 67 people, including tourists from Italy, are infected in India
  • Virus scare forced closure of schools and colleges in parts of country
New Delhi: The government has suspended all visas to India as the cases of coronavirus in the country sharply spiked and the World Health Organisation declared it a pandemic. Altogether, 67 people in India are infected, a chunk of them are a group of tourists from Italy. The Union health ministry said all existing visas -- except diplomatic, official, UN/International organisations, employment and project visas -- will be suspended till April 15. "This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure," read a communique issued late Wednesday night after a meeting of a Group of Ministers headed by health minister Dr Harshvardhan. Visa facilities had been partially suspended earlier from the COVID-19 nations, countries where the virus is on a rampage.

Here are the Top 10 points in this big story:

  1. The World Health Organisation has declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic, meaning a disease that has spread worldwide and affected huge number of people. In a series of tweets, the WHO said it was "deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity (of the virus), and by the alarming levels of inaction".

  2. The government communique that announced the suspension of visas this evening, also said, "Visa free travel facility granted to OCI card holders is kept in abeyance till April 15th 2020. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure".

  3. It also said all incoming travellers, including Indian nationals from COVID-19 nations – China Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany -- after February 15, shall be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days.

  4. "International traffic through land borders will be restricted to designated check posts with robust screening facilities. These will be notified separately," the communique read.

  5. The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in India now stands at 67, with fresh cases reported in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Kerala and Karnataka.

  6. Maharashtra has reported 10 cases of the virus – two of them in Mumbai and eight in Pune. More than 40 "First contacts" of five coronavirus patients have been placed under observation in Maharashtra.

  7. Three cases have been detected in Jaipur, two of them Italians and a third an Indian national who came back from Dubai.

  8. The coronavirus scare has forced closure of schools and colleges in parts of the country. Delhi has shut its primary schools till March 31. Kashmir and Ladakh has shut its schools and colleges and the Indian Institute of Management has postponed its annual convocation.

  9. Health being a state subject, every state is taking their own measures. So to bring them under the Union Health Ministry and jointly deal with the coronavirus outbreak, the Centre has invoked Section 10 of the Disaster Management Act and asked all state to invoke Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act.

  10. The Maharashtra government has banned ticket sales for the 2020 Indian Premier League opener between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. The match is scheduled to be held on March 29 and will be the first of the 13th season of the IPL which will continue till May 24 at various venues across the country.