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India temporarily suspends almost all visas and closes land border with Myanmar

A man wearing a protective face mask seen at Sector 18 market following multiple positive cases of coronavirus in the country on March 9, 2020 in Noida, India.

Sunil Ghosh | Hindustan Times | Getty Images

India is temporarily suspending almost all travel visas starting Friday as part of its efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected more than 118,000 people worldwide and killed over 4,200. 

Though the disease was first detected in China’s Hubei province, the number of cases and fatalities in other countries has dramatically risen in recent weeks, sparking concerns about governments’ abilities to contain the infection. Among the worst hit outside China are Italy, Iran, and South Korea

The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global pandemic on Wednesday

“All existing visas, expect diplomatic, official, UN/International Organizations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020,” India’s health ministry said in a statement. The restrictions are due to come into effect from 12:00 GMT on March 13 at the port of departure. 

Visa-free travel for foreigners of Indian origin will also be suspended till April 15, according to the health ministry, which added that “any foreign national who intends to travel to India for compelling reason may contact the nearest Indian Mission.”

Incoming visitors, including Indian nationals, who arrive from or have visited China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain, and Germany after Feb. 15 will be quarantined for at least 14 days starting Friday.

“Indian nationals are strongly advised to avoid all non-essential travel abroad. On their return, they can be subjected to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days,” the ministry added. 

As of 11 a.m. local time Thursday, India had 73 confirmed cases including foreign nationals present in the country. The southern state of Kerala had 17 cases.

On Tuesday, the chief minister of the state of Manipur said on Twitter that India has closed its border with Myanmar as part of its “precautionary measures.” Manipur shares a border with Myanmar.