Avoid travel to India even if fully vaccinated: Top US health body

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised American citizens against travelling to India, following a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.

This action follows the UK government’s decision to place India in the red list of countries and banning all arrivals, except UK and Irish citizens, along with permanent residents.

Hong Kong and New Zealand had earlier banned passenger movement from India for a limited period. A media report from Sri Lanka, quoting its tourism minister, said flights between India and Sri Lanka have been put on hold. But there was no official announcement in this regard and airline executes said they were still awaiting confirmation on that.

“Travellers should avoid travel to India because of the current situation. Even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk of getting and spreading Covid-19 variants and should avoid travel to India. If you must travel to India, get fully vaccinated before travel,” the US CDC said in its advisory. US citizens have also been advised to follow all social distancing measures of the US government’s health protection agency during their stay in India.

The move is likely to have a short-term impact on travel between India and the US, said a travel industry executive. Air India and United operate non-stop flights between the two countries.

“Currently, most of the demand for travel between India and the US is in the student and visiting friends and relatives’ segment. People may postpone their travel by a few weeks because of the health advisory and there could be a short-term impact on demand,” said an executive.

“We are currently reviewing our schedule of India operations from April 23 and recommend that customers booked to travel to or from India with us check their flight status,” said a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson. The airline operates five weekly flights to Mumbai and Delhi.

“Cancelling flights is tricky as we have full loads on our return flights from London,” said an Air India executive. The airline management is consulting its managers in the UK and could take a decision on its flight schedule in the next two to three days, he added.

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