Foreign Media On India's Move To Suspend Visas To Contain Coronavirus

Coronavirus: All existing visas -- except permissions given for diplomatic, official, United Nations, other international organizations, employment and project visas -- will be suspended until April 15, according to a government statement Wednesday.

Foreign Media On India's Move To Suspend Visas To Contain Coronavirus

Coronavirus: India's action came as Donald Trump suspended all travel from Europe, excluding the UK.

Highlights

  • W.H.O. declared coronavirus outbreak a pandemic
  • India has over 60 confirmed cases
  • India suspends existing visas until April 15

India suspended most visas in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus as the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic.

All existing visas -- except permissions given for diplomatic, official, United Nations, other international organizations, employment and project visas -- will be suspended until April 15, according to a government statement Wednesday.

India's action came as U.S. President Donald Trump suspended all travel from Europe, excluding the U.K., and the WHO urged governments to step up containment efforts as the number of worldwide cases topped 124,000 and deaths exceeded 4,600. India currently has 60 confirmed cases.

Population Density

Apart from its sheer size, India is cause for particular concern because of the density of its population: 420 people live on each square kilometer (about 0.4 of a square mile), compared with 148 per square kilometer in China.

The country's health-care spending is among the lowest in the world -- just 3.7% of gross domestic product. That's left India with a patchwork of overcrowded public hospitals, and private ones that are unaffordable for many people.

Add to that, India has a high rate of internal migration. In the 2011 census, 450 million people moved from one area to another in search of opportunity. Many commute daily from their villages to work in the cities. That could make it harder to contain an outbreak to one locality, as China has attempted to do by locking down the entire state of Hubei.

The order to suspend visas will come into effect from 1200 GMT on March 13 at the port of departure, and the visa-free travel facility granted to Overseas Citizen of India card holders will be kept in abeyance until April 15.

All incoming travelers, including Indian nationals, arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Korea, France, Spain and Germany will be quarantined for a minimum 14 days, while Indian nationals are "strongly advised" to avoid all non-essential travel abroad.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)