A medic official pumps sanitizer on the hands of tourists at Junagarh Fort in Bikaner on 12 March 2020 | PTI
A medical official pumps sanitiser on the hands of tourists at Junagarh Fort in Bikaner on 12 March 2020 | PTI
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New Delhi: Indians coming from countries that are not designated as high-risk for coronavirus should refrain from travelling unless it is important and should stay where they are, the Ministry of External Affairs said Thursday.

“All the people, including Indians, should stay put where they are if they can manage to do it. If they are not able to do it and they have to take a mandatory visit for any compelling reason, then it is advisable to get test certificate,” said Dammu Ravi, Additional Secretary and COVID-19 Coordinator with the ministry.

Ravi said such a certificate will save a lot of hassle for Indians as well as foreigners travelling to India from any international destination, and that a COVID-19 negative test certificate will make the screening process at the airport faster.

However, regardless of the medical certificate, everyone will still have to undergo the mandatory screening and a symptomatic testing at airports in India.

Also read: MEA set to brief foreign envoys on coronavirus, will allay concerns over travel advisory

Different scenarios

According to the ministry, the scenario will be different for Indian nationals and foreigners.

For instance, if an Indian coming from the US or the UK, which are not high-risk countries, produces the certificate, he/she will be allowed to enter the country after undergoing the mandatory tests.

However, a foreigner in the same situation will have to produce his/her travel history as well as a detailed report of their travel in India and onwards. If immigration is not satisfied with the answers provided, the individual can be sent back, according to Dinesh Adhikari, deputy director, Bureau of Immigration (Ministry of Home Affairs).

Also read: How hackers are using coronavirus panic to target India through WhatsApp and email

Fresh advisory

The government issued a fresh travel advisory Thursday and said people coming from the seven high-risk countries — China, Italy, Iran, Korea, France, Spain and Germany — will be subjected to mandatory quarantine for 14 days, effective from 13 March.

It further said any foreign national who intends to travel to India for “compelling reasons” may contact the nearest Indian mission for a new visa. However, the government did not elaborate on what will be regarded as a compelling reason.

“Normally, you don’t have a defined criteria … But I think we will leave it to our Ambassadors and our HOMs (heads of missions) to ascertain for themselves as to what is that compelling reason… It can be a health reason, there can be a wedding in the family… that I think we will leave it to the missions to decide. We will leave it in a broad sense,” Ravi added.

Also read: Health ministry asserts focus on prevention to tackle the coronavirus outbreak

Testing centers in Iran, Italy

Ravi, who was appointed the COVID-19 coordinator after the World Health Organisation declared coronavirus a ‘pandemic’, said in order to address the rising concerns of Indians living in Iran and Italy, the government will set up mobile testing centers.

The first such testing centres will be set up in Tehran and Qom in Iran, and in Rome and Milan in Italy. However, these mobile testing units will move where there is a concentration of Indians.

On the issue of India hosting large-scale sporting events such as the Indian Premier League (IPL), the MEA said a decision has to be taken by the organisers, but advised against it.

Also read: Amid coronavirus panic, sports ministry hints at IPL being held behind closed doors


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