The White House said Friday the Joe Biden government would restrict travel from India beginning on Tuesday, as concerns mount over a record surge in COVID-19 cases.
On Friday, White House Press Secretary Jennifer Rene Psaki stated that the Government would restrict travel from India starting immediately on the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The policy will be implemented in light of very high coronavirus caseloads and multiple virus variants circulating in the country. The policy will take effect on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.
A source familiar with the move said that the government would issue a 212(f)-order restricting entry into America for foreign nationals who have been in India within the previous fourteen days. A source said that Airlines had been told of the decision.
The new policy would take effect on May 4 at 12:01 am ET.
The policy wouldn’t apply to US citizens, lawful permanent residents, or other people with exemptions. As with all international travelers, individuals who fit that criteria traveling from India must still test COVID-19 negative before leaving the country, quarantine if they haven’t been immunized, and test negative again upon reentering the United States from India.
Moreover, the restrictions don’t apply to humanitarian workers.
The White House updated congressional offices on Friday of the move.
More than 0.3M daily new COVID-19 cases being reported in the past nine days
VP Kamala Harris addressed the travel restrictions before boarding Air Force Two on a tarmac in Kentucky on Friday afternoon. Harris is the first Black and South Asian VP, with family members still living in Delhi. When asked what her sense is for people with loved ones in India who hear about restrictions and have a concern, she said that people are worried, no question.
As she said earlier, Harris continued that it is essential to note that they have a responsibility as the U.S. particularly, as it relates to the people they have partnered with over the several years, to step up when people are in a time of need. And as it relates to Indians, they have a long-standing, decades-old relationship with the country, with the people of India, particularly around public health matters.
According to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Health Ministry on Friday, India recorded 386452 coronavirus cases, another record daily rise of virus cases.
Friday’s tally is the 9th consecutive day in the country has added over 300000 cases a day, bringing the total number to over 18.7M. India also reported 3498 deaths, bringing the death toll to 208330.
A day before the United States’ upcoming travel restrictions on India was declared, the country’s national airline, Air India, had stated it was planning to reintroduce near the pre-epidemic frequency of direct flights to America in the first half of May.
Many nations, including France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Canada, have placed travel restrictions, ranging from quarantines to outright bans on travel from the Republic of India.
US shipments of Oxygen, PPE, and Therapeutics have been sent to India
The World Health Organization said Wednesday that India accounted for 38 percent of global COVID-19 cases recorded in the week leading up to Tuesday.
According to a news release issued by the Health Ministry on Thursday, over 152M jabs have been administered as of Thursday evening. Around 26.7M people have received their second shots, which is approximately 2 percent of India’s 1.4 billion population being immunized.
India launched its inoculation drive on 16th January and would open up immunizations to everyone above 18 years of age on Saturday, but some states have indicated that they wouldn’t be ready for that vaccination rollout. Moreover, Mumbai’s municipal administration announced the suspension of all coronavirus vaccinations across the city on Thursday evening due to a shortage.
Rajnath Singh, the country’s Defense Minister, announced on Twitter that the Indian administration invoked special provisions on Friday and granted emergency financial powers to the Armed Forces to combat the Covid-19 second wave.
Earlier in the week, American President pledged to Indian PM Narendra Modi that America would provide a range of emergency assistance, including oxygen-related supplies, COVID vaccine raw materials, and therapeutics.
And on Wednesday, the White House said it was delivering supplies worth about $100M in the upcoming days to provide urgent relief to India. U.S. shipments of oxygen supply, personal protective equipment (PPE), COVID-19 test kits, face masks have been sent to the country.
The U.S. President and the White House have also indicated they would ship AstraZeneca vaccine doses to other nations, including India, in the upcoming months after passing a safety review by the U.S. FDA.