US lifts global travel alert except for India due to ‘high’ risk of contracting Covid-19
The United States on Thursday lifted a “Do Not Travel” Global Health Advisory for Americans but retained it for India saying that not only does the risk of contracting Covid-19 remain high there but, most alarmingly, “if you get sick in India and need medical care, resources may be limited (and overwhelmed)”.
The state department announced the lifting of the global travel advisory for Americans saying in a statement “with health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others” it was switching back to “our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice (with Levels from 1-4 depending on country-specific conditions).”
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For India, the country-specific advisory was “Level 4: Do Not Travel”. The state department said in the updated advisory, “Do not travel to India due to COVID-19.”
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which guided the state department revision, said on its own updated travel webpage Americans should avoid “all non-essential travel” to India as the risk of contracting Covid-19 is “high” and, it added, most significantly “if you get sick in India and need medical care, resources may be limited.”
In an interactive cartographic representation of its assessment on the pandemic, the CDC framed its India warning a little differently: “If you get sick in India and need medical care, healthcare resources may be overwhelmed.”
But this advisory can change. “CDC continues to monitor every country in the world, and as they identify that a country is either improving or that a country may be going in the other direction, they will let us know and we will, in turn, make the adjustment,” Karin King, deputy assistant secretary for overseas citizen services, told reporters at a news briefing.
Of the more than 19 million Covid-19 infections worldwide, nearly a fifth — close to 4.9 million — are in the United States, followed by Brazil with 2.9 and India with 1.9 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
Of the 713,406 global fatalities, nearly a fifth once again by the same count — over 160,000 — were in the US. Brazil was next with 98,000 deaths and India fifth with 40,699.
Pakistan, by comparison, was safer at Level 3 — “reconsider travel” — in America’s estimation. Nepal and Sri Lanka were both at Level 3. Bangladesh was the same as India at Level 4.
India is resuming limited international travel through bilateral arrangements with other countries under a new set of guidelines that go into effect Saturday, specifying a seven-day institutional isolation for all incoming travellers, followed by another sevens days of isolation at home.
The Trump administration issued a travel advisory on March 19 asking Americans to avoid all international travel. It had begun banning incoming travellers from certain countries in January starting with China, where the epidemic had started with first human-to-human transmission reported in December.
Over succeeding weeks travellers were banned from Iran, European Union countries, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Brazil. These orders remain in force.
Travellers from the United States were banned from EU countries subsequently and they remain on the unwelcome list because of the resurgence of infections.