India seals its borders with fresh restrictions as Covid-19 cases rise

India on Monday stepped up tougher border control measures to combat the Covid-19 outbreak as the number of patients is rising mostly from travel history to affected countries.

The fresh restrictions both for outbound and inbound travel now include major European countries including France, Spain and Germany.

The government strategy at containment is now veering towards border controls as several other countries have also rolled out travel curbs to and from Covid-19 affected countries.

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The fresh advisory issued after a review meeting by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba underlines the fact that the Covid-19 infection has now spread to as many as 100 countries and travellers to these countries, or any person having travelled abroad, might possibly have come in contact with people affected with Covid-19 during their stay there or even while in transit at airports.

An advisory has been issued for all incoming international passengers returning to India to self-monitor their health and follow the recommended "DOs and DON'Ts".

The advisory also calls for passengers with travel history to China, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Japan, Italy, Thailand, Singapore, Iran, Malaysia, France, Spain and Germany to undergo self-imposed quarantine for a period of 14 days from the date of their arrival, and their employers to facilitate work-from-home for such employees during this period.

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Further, in continuation of already issued advisories on travel to India citizens, India citizens are strongly advised to refrain from travelling to France, Spain and Germany.

Besides the already issued instructions, all regular Visas (including e-Visas) which have been granted to nationals of France, Germany and Spain on or before March 11 and where these foreigners have not yet entered India stands suspended. Regular visas (including e-Visas) granted to all foreign nationals who have travel history to these countries on or after February 1 and who have not yet entered India also stands suspended.

In addition, the government also has announced strict guidelines for international cruise ships to call on an Indian port to curb Covid-19 outbreak.

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The advisory follows several cruise ships like Diamond Princess which became infestations of the virus and are stuck at the ports.

A standard operating procedure (SOP) has been put in place with immediate effect for international cruise ships.

Cruise ships which had intimated their call to Indian port prior to January 1 will be allowed. Any ship, crew or passenger which has a history of visiting a Covid-19 affected country since February 1 will not be permitted to enter any Indian port till March 31.

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The cruise ships will be allowed on ports having thermal screening facility for passengers and crew. If any passengers or crew show symptoms of the disease, they will not be allowed to disembark. The passenger will be quarantined on the ship. If the samples are found to be positive, the passenger will be shifted to an isolation facility attached to the port and the ship be asked to move out.

The Shipping Agent of the vessel will have to produce travel history of the crew and passengers. No sick passengers will be allowed to board the ship. All aboard the ship will have to fill in a self reporting form and give it to the Port Health Officer.

The government in its advisory has said that cruise ships need to take special measures to ensure that coronavirus affected patients do not board the ship in the first place.

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Any cruise guests who have travelled to China, Hong Kong, Iran, South Korea and Italy in the past 14 days are automatically denied boarding by the cruise.

Any person having contact with anyone within last 14 days prior to travel who has travel history to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Iran or Italy or any other affected countries is automatically denied boarding.

Mandatory screening is to be performed on persons exhibiting influenza type symptoms in board ports terminals.

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At the check in counter of the boarding ports, the guest passport is scanned for stamps for any Covid-19 affected countries.

All cruise ships have been asked to carry out examination of the passengers daily for any symptoms of the disease.

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