COVID-19: US to restrict travel from India starting Tuesday

The U.S. has said it will restrict travel from India starting Tuesday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said this on Friday, citing a devastating rise in COVID-19 cases in the country and the emergence of potentially dangerous variants of the coronavirus. 

He said that President Joe Biden’s administration made the determination on the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Biden marked a decree notwithstanding section to most outsiders who have been in India in the previous 14 days, with exceptions for legal permanent residents, spouses and close family members of U.S. citizens, and some others.

"The CDC advises, based on work by public health and scientific experts, that these variants have characteristics of concern, which may make them more easily transmitted and have the potential for reduced protection afforded by some vaccines," Biden said. 

He said the CDC has concluded that proactive measures are needed to protect public health from travelers from India. 

With 386,452 new cases, India now has reported more than 18.7 million since the pandemic began, second only to the United States. 

The Health Ministry on Friday also reported 3,498 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 208,330. Experts believe both figures are an undercount. 

This week, the U.S. began delivering therapeutics, rapid virus tests and oxygen to India, along with some materials needed for India to boost its domestic production of COVID-19 vaccines. 

Additionally, a CDC team of public health experts was expected to be on the ground soon to help Indian health officials move to slow the spread of the virus. 

The White House waited on the CDC recommendation before moving to restrict travel, noting that the U.S. already requires negative tests and quarantines for all international travelers. 

Other restrictions are in place on travel from China, Iran, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil and South Africa, which are or have been hotspots for the coronavirus. 

 

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