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Coronavirus: Ban on flights from Europe, UK, Turkey; more nations in must quarantine list

The health ministry advised closure of all educational institutions, gyms, museums, cultural and social centres, swimming pools and theatres, and postponing of examinations, among other measures.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi |
Updated: March 16, 2020 9:07:26 pm
coronavirus, COVID-19, coronavirus travel ban, coronavirus UK, EU, TURKEY travel ban, coronavirus travel ban countries, central government on coronavirus, indian express A boy skates wearing a facemask amid COVID-19 spread concerns, in Marine Drive in Mumbai on Monday. (Express Photo: Ganesh Shirsekar)

Stepping up the lockdown to check the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID -19), the government Monday barred all airlines from flying India-bound passengers from “the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and United Kingdom”.

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It also announced compulsory quarantine for a minimum 14 days for passengers coming from/transiting through the UAE, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait. So far, the rule was only applicable to passengers from China, Italy, Iran, Korea, France, Spain and Germany.

Both these decisions will come into effect from March 18, and will remain in force till March 31.

“Expanding compulsory quarantine for a minimum period of 14 days for passengers coming from/transiting through UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 18th March 2020 at the port of first departure. Travel of passengers from member countries of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and United Kingdom to India is prohibited with effect from 18th March 2020. No airline shall board a passenger from these nations to India with effect from 1200 GMT on 18th March 2020. The airline shall enforce this at the port of initial departure,” the government said in its latest travel advisory.

The government had earlier suspended all visas, barring select categories. With today’s decision, even Indians who are currently in these countries may find it difficult to return home.

With the number of COVID-positive cases rising to 114 — Punjab and Odisha reported their first cases Monday — the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare also issued a detailed advisory on social distancing. Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal denied reports about missing patients in Punjab.

The ministry advised closure of all educational institutions, gyms, museums, cultural and social centres, swimming pools and theatres, postponing of examinations, encouraging private sector organisations/employers to allow staff to work from home wherever feasible, meetings through video-conference and physical distancing of minimum one metre.

While some states have already put these measures in place, more followed on Monday.

“Social distancing is a non-pharmaceutical infection prevention and control intervention implemented to avoid/decrease contact between those who are infected with a disease causing pathogen and those who are not, so as to stop or slow down the rate and extent of disease transmission in a community. This eventually leads to decrease in spread, morbidity and mortality due to the disease,” it said.

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