India suspends issuing visas till April 15

International Desk,
photo: collected

photo: collected

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India said on Wednesday (March 11) it will suspend the vast majority of visas to the country in a wide –reaching attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus, as cases across the region continued to rise.

The virus has hit Europe and the United States far harder than China's most immediate neighbours in South Asia, where no one has yet died. But as the number of cases in the region topped 80, experts fear that its overstretched medical systems may not be able to handle the type of intensive care required.

"All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, U.N./international organizations, employment, project visas, will stand suspended till 15th April 2020," India's Health Ministry said in a statement.

Millions of foreign nationals of Indian origin, who are traditionally granted visa-free access, will now also need to apply, the order read.

The new measures will come into effect from March 13.

The advisory said anyone with a "compelling reason" to travel to the country could contact their nearest Indian mission. It also urged Indian nationals to avoid all non-essential travel abroad, in one of the most far-reaching advisories since the outbreak began in late December.

Spokespeople for India's Health and Foreign Ministries did not respond to requests for comment.

Tourists wearing protective masks are pictured at the historic Taj Mahal in Agra, India, Mar 3, 2020. If any body goes abroad he or they will have to be in self quarantined for 15 days, according to NDTV

On Tuesday India suspended issuing visas to citizens of France, Spain and Germany until further notice. Such restrictions were already in place for citizens of China, Italy, Iran, Japan and South Korea - the five countries worst hit by the outbreak of the virus.

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