Coronavirus: India suspends visas for all foreign nationals

Indian nationals and non-resident Indians entering airports from Friday may be subject to a 14-day quarantine

Medical staff wearing facemasks amid concerns of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus leave from a hospital, in Mumbai on March 12, 2020.  / AFP / Indranil MUKHERJEE
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India’s suspension of visas for all foreign nationals coming into the country from midnight on Friday will help contain the spread of the coronavirus, officials said.

New Delhi announced sweeping measures late on Wednesday that revoked all previously issued entry documents barring diplomatic, United Nations, employment and project visas.

The suspension of visas will continue until April 15, according to a statement from India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

"All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, United Nations and other international organisations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020," the statement said.

All Indians travelling back home including non-resident Indians (NRIs) may be subject to a 14-day quarantine depending on the decision taken by health officials at the airport.

India’s federal health ministry said that the country did not yet have cases of community transmission when the deadly virus spreads quickly within an area.

A staff member walks inside an empty classroom of a school after Kerala state government ordered the closure of schools across the state, amid coronavirus fears, in Kochi, India March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Sivaram V

“We have only a few cases that have come from outside and they have primarily affected their close family members,” Lav Aggarwal, joint secretary in the Health Ministry, told the press on Thursday.

“Right now, luckily for India we do not have any community transmission.”

India has 73 confirmed coronavirus patients and the government has advised citizens against travel overseas.

“This suspension of visas covers all foreign nationals who were planning to travel to India,” said Vipul, India’s Consul General in Dubai.

“NRIs can also be placed under quarantine when they reach the airport as per the advisory.

“We don’t have too many coronavirus cases in India right now so it’s better to take this precaution at this stage when it can help contain the situation."

The UAE too cautioned its nationals against travelling to India following the advisory.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation asked UAE nationals to be mindful of instructions issued by the Indian government that “all foreigners holding Indian visas of all kinds will be barred from entering India until further notice as a precautionary measure taken.”

The UAE embassy in New Delhi has asked its citizens in India to register on the Twajudi service that helps UAE missions to contact and help them to return back home safely in case of an emergency.