Coronavirus: India bans all international flights

India steps up fight against COVID-19, bans all international flights

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The Government on Thursday banned all international commercial flights landing in India for a week beginning March 22, advised citizens over 65 and children below 10 to stay at home, in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19 which claimed its fourth victim in India.

The Centre also asked states to enforce a work-from-home protocol for all private-sector employees except those working in emergency and essential services and moved to implement staggered shifts in government offices, with 50% of Group B and C employees to work-from-home.

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In a bid to discourage non-essential travel, the government also scrapped concessions offered for air and rail travel, except for students, patients and disabled people.

The decisions were taken at a meeting of Group of Ministers formed to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, chaired by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, and were targeted a preventing community transmission of the disease.

A senior Health Ministry official insisted that at present the spread of the disease can be traced back to the source of infection, making it a Stage-2 outbreak.

Read: PM Narendra Modi calls for 'Janta Curfew' on March 22

“There is no evidence of community transmission yet,” Luv Aggarwal, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry told a press conference here.

A 70-year-old person, who had returned from Germany via Italy about a fortnight back, died in Nawanshahr in Punjab, making him the fourth COVID-19 victim in the country. Aggarwal refused to reveal the identity or the place of the deceased but added that the patient had co-morbidities such as hypertension and diabetes.

In line with the government decision, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a circular stating that no international commercial flights will be allowed to land at airports in India for a week beginning March 22. An estimated 300-350 flights are expected to be affected by the decision.

“No incoming scheduled international commercial aircraft shall be allowed to disembark its passengers on Indian soil (foreigner or Indian) after 1.30 am on March 23,” civil aviation regulator DGCA said.

India has already suspended the visas of all incoming tourists and barred passengers of flights from the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

Travellers from several countries are also subject to a 14-day quarantine when they arrive in India.

As of Thursday, India has 190 positive cases of COVID-19, 19 discharged patients, four deaths and one migrated.

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