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US says no to Indian visitors, ban to be effective from Tuesday

US says no to Indian visitors, ban to be effective from Tuesday

Washington: The Biden administration has imposed a temporary ban on Indians visiting the US as India battling with the virus infection in the second COVID wave.

The government will restrict travel from India starting Tuesday midnight as the latter continues to grapple with the gigantic surge in coronavirus cases, US Vice President Kamala Harris has said.

"We have announced that starting Tuesday on the advice of the CDC (Centres for Disease Control, our COVID-19 experts, medical experts and national security advisors -- travel restrictions will come into force for India," she told reporters on Friday.

Harris, who was visiting Cincinnati, said, "There is no question that it (COVID surge in India) is a great tragedy, in terms of the loss of life, and as I have said before, and I will say again, we as a country have committed to the people of India to support them."

"And we've made already a commitment in terms of a dollar amount that will go to PPE (personal protective equipment) and several other things. But it is tragic. And, you know, my prayers go to the people on the suffering, the blatant suffering that is happening," she added.

However, certain categories of students, academics, journalists and individuals have been exempted from the India travel ban. The exemptions were issued by Secretary of State Tony Blinken, hours after Joe Biden issued a proclamation restricting travel from India beginning May 4 because of the "extraordinarily high COVID-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in the country".

India has reported an average of about 357,000 new cases per day over the past seven days — up about 26% from a week ago, Johns Hopkins data show.

The White House and the CDC did not spell out the restrictions.

But travel restrictions issued by Biden on other countries given an idea of how they may impact India.

Non-US citizens except for US legal immigrants will not be allowed into the US if they have been to the countries under the restrictions in the past 14 days.

The restrictions cover South Africa, China, Iran, Brazil, Ireland, Britain and the 29 countries belonging to the common visa zone known as the Schengen Area.

US citizens and legal residents and their immediate family members are exempt from the restrictions, as also are diplomats, but they are advised to follow precautions.

They are asked to test themselves for COVID-19 between three and five days after arrival.

If those who are vaccinated test positive, they have to isolate themselves for seven days. Those who are not vaccinated are asked to self-isolate for seven days, regardless of the test results.

On Thursday, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that the Biden Administration was sending COVID relief aid worth $100 million.

Two planeloads of oxygen cylinders, rapid diagnostic tests, and N95 masks to protect frontline workers have already been sent to India.

(with inputs from IANS)

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