Majority Indians feel additional restrictions are needed on foreign travellers coming to India to control the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19 in India
March 12, 2020, New Delhi: Earlier this week, the World Health Organisation said that the threat of Coronavirus outbreak becoming a pandemic is now very real, after the global COVID-19 infection cases went past the 100,000 mark and cases were reported from over 100 countries. The number of confirmed infected, which is changing quite rapidly, stands at approximately 120,000 around the world and over 60 in India. Just 10 days back in early March, India reported its first case.
COVID-19 is spreading very fast and many countries have started taking tough measures to control its spread. Now, India has suspended visas granted to foreign nationals of France, Germany and Spain. Earlier, the Government of India had suspended all regular visas and e-visas granted on or before March 3 to nationals of Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan, and had made it mandatory for people travelling from or having visited Italy and South Korea to submit certificate of having tested negative for COVID-19 from laboratories authorised by the health authorities of their countries.
Citizens from across the country have been expressing their concerns on COVID-19 via LocalCircles and how 95% of the cases in India are associated with foreign travel and have been highlighting an urgent need to address the situation through bold and timely steps.
LocalCircles conducted a survey to check the citizen pulse on what should the Indian Government do to control the entry of Coronavirus in India through foreigners. The survey received 7,304 responses from across the country.
Majority Indians feel additional restrictions are needed on foreign travellers coming to India to control Coronavirus
Through the poll, citizens were asked how the Government should best implement restrictions for foreign travellers coming into India. In response, 34% said India should only allow foreign passport holders of any nationality (except PIO/OCI) into India if they have a ‘Coronavirus Free’ certificate from home country and boarding port for the next 30 days, while 18% said arrival of all foreign passport holders (except PIO/OCI) should be completely banned in India for the next 30 days.
15% citizens said arrival of all foreign passport holders (except PIO/OCI) should be completely banned only from countries severely affected with Coronavirus into India for next 30 days.
17% citizens said India should only allow foreign passport holders (except PIO/OCI) into India from countries severely affected if they have a "Coronavirus Free" certificate from home country or boarding port for the next 30 days, while 10% said we should continue with the current system of allowing arrivals from all countries except the ones where visas have been suspended.
The Italian Government has already declared the country a red zone and put the entire country on a lockdown for the next one month, in order to control the Coronavirus outbreak. In India, North-Eastern states of Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram have banned the entry of foreigners into their state to prevent an outbreak. Kerala also, is reportedly shutting down religious places and public places like cinemas.
Per citizens, it is imperative that the Government imposes additional travel restrictions for foreigners coming into India to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Citizens have also shared concerns about the probability of people having 2nd degree infection residing in any of the European countries where visas have not been suspended, traveling to India with an infection during their asymptomatic state. Experts in the LocalCircles communities feel that airport screening may only catch 25% of the cases and majority of the cases may therefore go undetected.
India’s public health infrastructure is average at best and we do not have the where with all to handle a public health emergency like the Coronavirus according to most citizens and hence the answer here may lie in introducing travel restrictions in the very short term. Desperate times call for desperate measures. This is clearly a scenario that the world has never seen before and a time when along with the Government, citizens and businesses of India need to stay responsible to prevent a major outbreak of COVID-19 in India.
LocalCircles will be making a submission of this report to the various Government stakeholders so due consideration can be given to this collective recommendation from citizens.