Etihad: Ban on travellers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka extended

UAE’s national airline says restrictions will continue until July 21

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A ban on travellers from four South Asian countries where the highly infectious Delta variant was detected will continue for three more weeks, Etihad Airways said.

The national airline said restrictions on passengers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka would remain in place until July 21.

The ban was first imposed on travellers from India in late April, when cases there soared, followed by the other three on May 12.

No information was given about Nepal, which was included in the original ban earlier in May.

The extension is understood to cover all UAE airports and airlines, but no official announcement was made on Tuesday.

Emirates earlier this week told passengers it was unlikely the July 7 lifting of the ban was unlikely.

Reviews of the India ban in particular has led to restrictions being extended several times, as news arose of the variant spreading.

In the UAE, one third of cases (33.9 per cent) analysed were of Delta, officials said this week.

The Beta variant, which emerged in South Africa, was most prevalent, with the UK one, Alpha, accounted for 11 per cent of cases.

Etihad said passengers can reschedule flights.

“Our contact centre and social media teams are experiencing a high volume of inquiries,” it posted on Twitter.

“If you have an affected booking, we encourage you to contact us at a later date to avoid longer-than-usual wait times. Bookings can be amended with no change fee until 31 October.”

In India, the number of new daily cases has fallen from a record of more than 300,000, but the country’s authorities continue to report tens of thousands per day.

The Indian variant is estimated to be about 60 per cent more transmissible than the original strain.

It has also been linked to more deaths in many countries, and although most vaccines reduce the symptoms it causes, scientists say they are somewhat less effective against it.