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*This India coronavirus update will post the latest report every week.
*Data lifted from the latest Worldometers.info report and the CDC.
The risk of COVID-19 in India is extremely high. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises travellers to postpone any planned trips, whether essential or nonessential, to the country as the risk for contracting the disease is high.
India is a highly dense country, with a population of 1.38 billion based on the last available statistics. The country’s culture of religious gathering and celebrations is seen as the main reason why the government has posted millions of positive cases, ranking second to the U.S. among the countries with the most cases of the dreaded virus. The people of India rely heavily on religious tourism, and they are also huge on community gathering, which further increases the risk of transmission.
Weddings in the country are also a big event, with some couples having hundreds to thousands of guests sitting in close distance with each other during ceremonies and merry-making.
For this reason, several religious organisations managing temples advise devotees to postpone visiting the country for at least two months as a precautionary measure.
In terms of health safety, no, it is not safe to travel to India now. Even when practising the minimum health safety measures, the number of cases in the country means that there is an increased risk of transmission.
Domestic travel in India has resumed since May in response to efforts of jumpstarting its economy. However, international travel remains restricted for visitors with a tourist visa. Aside from Indian nationals and residents, foreign nationals with requirements can also visit the country. Based on the latest update released by the Indian Bureau fo Immigration, foreign nationals can enter India via water routes or flights under the Vande Bharat Mission or Air Bubble (Bilateral Air Travel Arrangement) Scheme or via an unscheduled commercial flight permitted by the Ministry of Civil Action.
Those that can enter the country must be an Overseas Citizen India (OCI) and Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cardholders with any foreign passport, and all foreign nationals, including their dependents with any other visa, except tourist visa.
The Indian government is adopting a phased approach to the resumption of international flights, following the bilateral bubbles that depend on the reciprocity principle. To date, India is currently in the Unlock 2.0 phase, and more people are bracing for entering the new normal.
If you are among those that can travel to India, here are some of the requirements you have to prepare to ensure admittance:
Only domestic flights are currently active. All international flights are under the supervision of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, meaning all incoming travellers must only be those allowed by the local government.
If you are travelling to India, it is mandatory to observe the necessary measures to protect yourself and others from getting infected with COVID-19. Note that while the country is slowly opening tourist spots, it is still essential to limit travels within the country. Keep in mind that restrictions vary per state. If you need to go out, make sure it is only to get the essentials. No leisurely travels in the meantime because of the threat of transmission.
After you travel, you must still take extra caution to protect yourself and others from the disease further. Your travel exposed you to the risk of COVID-19, and you may have the virus already without knowing it. You will put your friends, family, and community at risk for 14 days after exposure to the virus. You should take these actions to avoid further spread of the virus:
Note: This India coronavirus update was first published in November 2020 and has been updated to include the latest developments.