India temporarily suspends almost all visas to contain Covid-19

India has suspended the issue of almost all visas, except a a select few, until 15th April as a response to halt the spread of Covid-19.

Visa-free travel for foreigners of Indian origin will also be suspended, according to the health ministry, which added that “any foreign national who intends to travel to India for compelling reason may contact the nearest Indian Mission.”

India has 73 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with the number is expected to grow in coming days

The advisory, issued on Wednesday night, says that only diplomatic, official, employment and project visas will be exempt from the current restrictions, which take effect on Friday and will be reviewed again in a month.

However, it has said that even those allowed in could be subject to 14 days of quarantine and has warned against “non-essential travel”.

India’s health ministry says it was among the first countries in the world to prepare for an outbreak of the respiratory illness.

However, there are concerns about whether the country will be fully equipped to prevent and treat an outbreak.

All schools, colleges and movie theatres in the capital, Delhi, have been shut until 31st March, the city’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.

India has been criticised for not been able detect coronavirus-related deaths, something that officials deny.

Meanwhile, in Karnataka provisions of a 123-year-old legislation – the ‘Epidemic Diseases Act 1897’ has been have invoked. It states that any person or organisation or institution that violates regulations will be prosecuted.

The chief minister of the state of Manipur said that India has closed its border with Myanmar as part of its “precautionary measures.” Manipur shares a border with Myanmar.

The travel restrictions are also expected to badly hit several key sectors of India’s economy.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak a global pandemic on Wednesday 11th March 2020.

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