US exempts students, journalists from travel restrictions to India
he United States government has exempted students, academics, journalists and some individuals from the restrictions imposed on travel from India for an indefinite period from May 4.
A statement from the US state department on Friday said that the exemptions were made by secretary of state Antony Blinken by extending the National Interest Exceptions already in place for travel from Brazil, China, Iran and South Africa. “In keeping with the Department of State’s commitment to facilitate legitimate travel to the United States, Secretary Blinken decided today to apply the same set of National Interest Exceptions to India that he had previously applied to all other regional travel restrictions currently in effect as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the state department said.
The Biden administration announced restrictions on travel from India earlier on Friday attributing the move to the “extraordinarily high Covid-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India”.
The travel restrictions have been imposed in the wake of US assistance to India to tackle the current wave of the pandemic which is expected to peak mid-May, with the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation of the University of Washington projecting over 960,000 deaths by August. India recorded 392,497 new cases and added 3,667 deaths on Saturday, taking its cumulative tally to 19,555,440 and toll to 215,522.
Calling the situation in India “very, very serious”, Gayle Smith, the state department coordinator of US global effort on Covid-19, said, “India is reporting an increasing number of cases almost every day. And the crisis has not peaked yet. The way this happens in a surge is there’s a lag time between when people are infected, when they become sick, and when they may need care.”