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Saudi Arabia Bans Travel To India, 15 Other Countries Over Covid Outbreaks

JEDDAH, May 22: Following the re-outbreak of Covid-19 and the rapid surge in the number of daily Covid infections over the past few weeks, Saudi Arabia has banned its citizens from traveling to sixteen countries, including India.

The sixteen countries where the citizens of Saudi Arabia are banned to travel apart from India include Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Indonesia, Vietnam, Armenia, Belarus, and Venezuela, reported Gulf News.

Further, the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia has assured the public that zero monkeypox cases have been detected in the country. Abdullah Asiri, Deputy Minister of Health for preventive health has said that the Kingdom has the capability to monitor and discover any suspected monkeypox cases and also to fight against the infection if any new case emerges.

"Until now, cases of transmission between humans are very limited, and therefore the possibility of any outbreaks occurring from it, even in countries that have detected cases, are very low," he added.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed 80 cases of monkeypox in 11 countries and said they are working to better understand the extent and cause of the outbreak.

In a statement issued on Friday, the WHO said the virus is endemic in some animal populations in a number of countries, leading to occasional outbreaks among local people and travelers.

India restores e-tourist visa for 156 countries

NEW DELHI, March 16: Days after it announced that international flights to and from India are set to resume fully from March 27, the government has restored the electronic tourist visa (e-TV) facility for 156 countries, according to a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) order.

However, all land and riverine borders, including the Attari-Wagah post along Pakistan, will continue to remain shut, except for those with special permission. The Ministry said that the “instructions will not be applicable to Afghanistan nationals” who will continue to be governed by e-Emergency X-Miscellaneous Visa.

“Order for opening of Land ICPs (Integrated Check Posts) and riverine routes will be communicated separately,” the order said.

It said that in continuation with October 20 order, and keeping in view the improvement in COVID-19 situation in India, the government has considered the need for further relaxation of visa and travel restrictions.

“Currently valid e-Tourist Visa issued for five years, which was suspended since March 2020, shall stand restored to nationals of 156 eligible countries with immediate effect. Nationals of these 156 counties will also be eligible for issuance of fresh e-Tourist visa,” it said.

The order said that valid Regular (Paper) Tourist visa with validity of 5 Years, issued to foreign nationals of all countries shall also be restored. “Fresh Regular (Paper) Tourist visa up to 5 years validity may also be issued to the nationals of the eligible countries subject to the restrictions imposed from time to time,” it said.

The Long duration (10 years) regular tourist visa for the citizens of the U.S. and Japan, issued before March 2020 has also been restored. “Fresh Long duration (10 years) tourist visa can also be issued to the nationals of the U.S. and Japan,” it said.

The Ministry said that foreign nationals who have tourist/ e-tourist visas may enter India only through designated sea immigration check posts (ICPs) or international airports.

Omicron Alert: India's New Travel Rules Come Into Force

NEW DELHI, Dec 1: The Central government on Tuesday issued new rules for international travellers which will be effective from midnight. These were announced following a high-level meeting to review public health preparedness with states and UTs in view of 'Omicron'.

Passengers from "at-risk" countries will be tested for Covid on arrival and can't leave the airport till their RT-PCR test results are available. If found negative, they will undergo a seven-day home quarantine and be re-tested on the 8th day. State officials will physically visit their homes to ensure effective home isolation.

If found positive for the virus, passengers will be isolated and treated, and their samples will immediately be sent to the INSACOG Labs network, a multi-laboratory, multi-agency, pan-India network set up by the government to monitor genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2, for genome sequencing to determine the strain of the virus. States will then undertake contact tracing of these positive individuals and follow up for 14 days.

Passengers from "at-risk" countries are being advised to prepare to wait at the airports till their results are out.

The list of countries deemed "at-risk" for now includes the United Kingdom, all 44 countries in Europe, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Israel.

States have been advised to not let their guards down and keep a strict vigil on the international passengers coming to the country through various airports, ports, and land border crossings. The "Test, Track, Treat, Vaccinate" strategy was reemphasised.

States have also been advised to ramp up testing as the 'Omicron' variant reportedly can't escape RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Tests that have been used to detect Covid so far. Strengthening testing infrastructure, strict implementation of testing guidelines, and maintaining a healthy ratio of RT-PCR tests, which has been found to be more effective in detection, have been advised.

The Centre has also advised continued monitoring of areas where recent clusters of positive cases have emerged and promptly send all positive samples for genome sequencing to the INSACOG network. Preparedness of health infrastructure including the availability of ICU, Oxygen beds, ventilators, etc., with a focus on rural areas and pediatric cases have been advised. Health facilities were found to be severely lacking when the second wave of Covid battered India earlier this year.


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