Coronavirus: with foreign visas to India suspended, airlines likely to cancel flights

With the Centre announcing suspension of foreign visas to India with effect from March 13 to check the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, foreign airlines will likely cancel their flights to India.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India is 67. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a “pandemic” on Wednesday.

Since India has been able to contain the spread of the virus to a great extent, tracked down several travellers and possible cases and there has been no death from COVID-19 so far in the country, it is being felt that the move, though stern, will help in prevention.

The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday night announced the suspension of all foreign visas to India from March 13 at 12:00 GMT at the port of departure and will be in place till April 15, said a press release by Ministry. The visa-free travel facility of overseas citizens of India (OCI) will also remain suspended during this period. The decisions were taken at a meeting headed by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.

Exceptions include diplomatic, official, UN/International organisations, employment and project visas.Officials of various airlines think that not only the visa suspension but also the possibility of being quarantined will lead to a great reduction in the number of foreign tourists.

As a large number of travellers to India are overseas citizens of India (OCI) or people of Indian origin (PIO), the business of foreign airline operators is likely to be hugely affected.

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