As of now, 31 cases of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in India. The Ministry of Health and the government of India have taken various steps and even issued a travel advisory to help the citizens stay safe during this outbreak.
- India has cancelled all visas and eVisas that have been granted to nationals from Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan on or before March 3. This applies to those who have not yet entered India.
- Visas that have been given to foreign nationals who have travelled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea and Japan, on or after 1 February, have been cancelled.
- Visa or e-visa that was granted to nationals of China, issued on or before February 5 has been suspended and will remain in effect until further notice.
- Sikkim has imposed a blanket ban for permits to visit the Nathu La pass that borders China and has also decided to ban entry to all foreigners.
- Anyone who needs to immediately travel to India due to compelling reasons, has been asked to seek a fresh visa from the nearest Indian Embassy or consulate.
- Diplomats, officials of UN and other international bodies, OCI cardholders and Aircrews from above countries are except from restrictions. However, their medical screening is compulsory.
- In addition to this, passengers who are travelling from Italy or Republic of Korea, or have recently visited it and wish to enter India now need to produce a "coronavirus-free" certificate from health authorities of those countries. This is applicable from March 10th onwards.
- Passengers of all international flights and seaports entering into India (except from countries that have been restricted) are required to furnish duly filled self declaration forms and relay their travel history, to health officials and immigration officials.
- As on 4th March, a total of 6241 flights have been screened covering a total of 6,11,167 passengers. The government stated that teams of specialist doctors were sent to all the airports to ensure effective screening and arrangement for isolation in the attached hospitals.
- The Ministry of Health has advised all Indian citizens to not travel to China, Iran, Republic of Korea, Italy and Japan, and to avoid all non-essential travel to other 70-odd COVID-19 affected countries.
In light of the spread, ISKCON has temporarily banned foreigners from its Vrindavan temple for the next two months and is asking devotees to wear a mask before entering the premises. The Ministry of Health in India has also asked all mass gatherings to either be postponed or avoided. And all primary schools in New Delhi will remain shut till 31 March.
The Indian Army is actively taking steps to help fight this virus, they have set up facilities to quarantine 1500 people across the country, ANI reported. The army is already running a quarantine camp in Haryana’s Manesar.
For those who suspect symptoms of infection or want to report a case, the Maharashtra government has announced a 24×7 helpline number - 020-26127394. The BMC in Mumbai has also announced the launch of a helpline number to report coronavirus cases in the city - 1916. There is also a national helpline available for any queries - 011-23978046.