The government on Wednesday said all existing visas to India – with some exceptions – stand cancelled till April 15 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government said the regulations will come into effect at 5.30 pm on March 13 from the port of departure.
The exceptions include diplomatic visas, official visas, visas by the United Nations or other international organisations, and employment and project visas. The decision was taken at a meeting of a Group of Ministers headed by Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan.
The novel coronavirus, which was declared a pandemic on Wednesday, has killed over 4,000 people and infected over a lakh globally. As many as 60 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in India so far. However, there have been no deaths.
The government said all Indians or foreigners who came or will come from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain and Germany after February 15 will be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days. Those who have visited these countries will also be quarantined.
The Centre said visa-free travel facility granted to Overseas Citizens of India will be kept in abeyance till April 15.
“Indian nationals are strongly advised to avoid all non-essential travel abroad,” the government said. “On their return, they can be subjected to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.” It said that any foreigner who wants to travel to India “for any compelling reason” should contact the nearest Indian mission.
“International traffic through land borders will be restricted to designated check posts with robust screening facilities,” the press release said. “This will be notified separately by Ministry of Home Affairs.”