President Joe Biden on Friday announced via his White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, that beginning on Tuesday, May 4, the United States is restricting travelers from India to this country, given India’s out-of-control COVID crisis.
The action is being taken on the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Psaki indicated.
“The administration will restrict travel from India starting immediately,” she told members of the media. “The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high COVID-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India.”
Last week, the U.S. told American citizens to leave India immediately.
The Level 4 travel advisory indicated a “very high level” of COVID-19 in India, as the State Department said last week, multiple outlets reported.
The department also said, “Do not travel to India due to COVID-19.”
It also said, “Exercise increased caution due to crime and terrorism.”
“Each day since April 22, [India] has reported more than 300,000 new cases—at times, up to half of the daily cases reported globally,” CNN reported on Saturday morning. “The capital New Delhi is now running out of wood for cremations. Hospitals are full and lacking oxygen. Only 2% of the population has been fully vaccinated. Foreign leaders are now rushing to India’s aid.”
In the same piece, CNN also noted that “many in India believe responsibility lies with [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi and his Hindu nationalist government, which not only didn’t prepare for a second wave [of COVID cases,] but also encouraged mass gatherings at Hindu festivals and political rallies, including in a closely contested battleground state.”
Regarding Biden’s India travel ban, the Democratic president had been critical previously of travel bans from other countries—that is, when his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, implemented the bans.
In March 2020, while still on the presidential campaign trail, Biden tweeted, “A wall will not stop the coronavirus.”
Biden also wrote, “Banning all travel from Europe—or any other part of the world—will not stop it. This disease could impact every nation and any person on the planet—and we need a plan to combat it,” as the Fox News website and other outlets noted.
An article in The Conversation pointed out these tragic details about India’s crisis: “The virulence of the second wave in India seems to be related to a confluence of factors: government complacency, driven by poor data collection and being in denial about the reality of the data; a new variant with a hockey-stick shaped growth curve; and some very large and unregulated religious and political events.”
The article went on, “It is clear that there is now a humanitarian crisis of significant proportions. India is a country of 1.4 billion people and makes up a sixth of the world’s population.” It also argued that the COVID crisis is going to affect the world economy.
It is clear that India, and indeed all those worldwide affected by the coronavirus pandemic in one way or another, need our most fervent prayers, now and for a long time to come.
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Maureen Mackey is a writer, editor, web content executive, and regular contributor to Christian News Journal.