India bans International landings from March 22; WHO asks the Asian country to step up testing

WHO warned India to step up the testing for coronavirus or COVID-19 cases, states its on 'that path'

Aiming to curb the rising coronavirus or COVID-19 spread in the country, Indian government will not allow any international flight to land on its soil from March 22. The ban, which comes into effect after 8.00 pm (IST) on Sunday would be for one week, ending March 29.

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, so far the country has recorded four deaths and 195 confirmed cases including 32 foreign nationals.

India moves to seal its borders to contain the pandemic

Covid-19 as on March 20

The data provided by the John Hopkins University reports more than 10,000 deaths and over 244,000 confirmed cases globally. India's move to ban international flights come after similar response from other nations including America, Australia and New Zealand.

According to Deccan Herald, India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), in a statement said: "No scheduled international commercial passenger aircraft shall take off from any foreign airport for any airport in India after 5.30 am on March 22. These instructions shall remain in force till 5.30 am of March 29. 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."

Stating that the reason for imposing the ban was to contain the spread of virus the DGCA authorities instructed the "international flights to not carry or disembark passengers who have travelled China, Iran, European Union, EU FTA, Turkey, the UK, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Malaysia -- on or after February 15." India had previously banned the arrival of flights from high-risk nations of European Union. The ban is till March 31.

Apart from imposing ban on International flights, the Indian government has also toughened up its stand on other modes of public transport including trains and buses. The Indian Railways and airlines have suspended the concessions extended to the senior citizens, disabled persons, and students. Furthermore, the Indian state of Punjab has suspended the its public transport services from Friday midnight.

Prime Minister Modi calls for one day 'Janta Curfew'

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers the keynote address at the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue

In a special address to the citizens of his country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi while urging the senior citizens above 60 years of age and kids below 10 years to stay at home in wake of the virus. "For a developing country like ours with a large population the growing challenge of Coronavirus is not a normal situation. I request all people in country to get out of house only when it is extremely necessary, try and do all work from home," said the PM during his 29-minute address to the nation on Thursday.

Calling for a nationwide curfew on March 22, Modi said: "These are testing times but we all have to maintain discipline to prevent spread of the virus. No citizen, barring those in essential services, should get out of house during the 'Janta curfew' on March 22 from 7 am-9 pm."

WHO warns India to step up testing for COVID-19

With no evidence of community transmission of the virus in the country, India stays on Stage 2 of the outbreak. Despite the measures placed by the government to check the spread of virus, the World Health Organisation has warned India to step up its testing procedure.

During an interview with the Indian Express, WHO's representative in India Dr Henk Bekedam said that so far India's response towards tackling the virus has been 'comprehensive and robust.' "India does need to step up testing, and it is on that path. What is important is that since mid-February, India has included testing for patients having severe acute respiratory illness from the surveillance system — these are people who have no travel or contact history. Some results have already come out negative, other results will be out by end of the week," he said.

Related topics : Coronavirus