India bans international flights to rein in coronavirus, seals off Kashmir - GulfToday

India bans international flights to rein in coronavirus, seals off Kashmir


Passengers wearing face masks amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19, walk out from the arrivals of the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on Wednesday. AFP

India banned incoming international flights on Thursday, restricted public gatherings and blocked roads to seal Kashmir after the insurgency-torn region reported its first coronavirus infection.

New cases in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are all accelerating, with the total across the region nearing 700. Six people have died.

ForeignersInIndiaForeigners wearing face masks walk near a hospital with a special ward for the virus in Mumbai. AFP

Authorities worry that these countries could be especially at risk should the virus begin to spread locally, due to poor health facilities and infrastructure.


UAE suspends return of residents with valid visa from Thursday for two weeks

Pakistan confirms first two deaths from coronavirus

UAE temporarily suspends visa on arrival

India suspends tourist visas over coronavirus

India, the world's second most populous country after China, said it would ban all international commercial passenger flights from landing from Sunday for a week. The country has already suspended visas for the vast majority of foreigners seeking to enter.

Indian airline IndiGo said it would cut the salaries of most of its staff, while rivals SpiceJet and Vistara suspended international flights.

MumbaiMaskA commuter wearing a face mask uses an escalator with others as she leaves a metro station in New Delhi. AFP

In Indian-ruled Kashmir, claimed in whole but ruled in part by both India and Pakistan, dozens of people told Reuters they had been prevented from leaving their neighborhoods by police and paramilitary units.

Srinagar's senior superintendent of police, Haseeb Mughal, told Reuters that road blockades across the valley had been imposed to prevent the spread of the virus.

KashmirVirusAn Indian soldier stands guard at a roadblock following restrictions imposed as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 in Srinagar. AFP

"I had to take my mother to hospital in Srinagar but the police closed the road," said Mohammed Ayub, from the nearby town of Budgam.

"I am waiting here for the last two hours. I can't even go home now as the road is blocked due to a traffic jam."

In India, several areas introduced curbs on gatherings as coronavirus cases rose to 166.

Late on Wednesday, the desert state of Rajasthan invoked colonial-era laws that prevent the unlawful assembly of four or more people - powers more often used to quell riots.

VisitorsInDelhiForeigners visitors wearing face masks stand outside the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. AFP

Similar restrictions were introduced in Noida, a satellite city of New Delhi.

The financial hub of Mumbai expanded its partial shutdown of offices to government buildings on Thursday, with at least half the staff ordered to work from home.

Online retailers say they are struggling to keep up with demand as consumers stockpile supplies.

"We are seeing unprecedented order volumes in all cities in India," said Hari Menon, chief executive of online grocery retailer BigBasket.



Related articles