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U.S. halts travel from India due to severe COVID-19 surge

By
Don Johnson
Homeless and migrant laborers affected by the COVID-19 lockdown queue up to receive free cooked food distributed by Sikh volunteers in New Delhi, India, on May 18, 2021. Photo by Abhishek/UPI | License Photo

May 4 (UPI) -- A health and security ban on most travel from India to the United States began Tuesday as the country surpassed 20 million total COVID-19 cases, according to government figures.

The United States now joins much of the world in cutting off travel to and from India. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week that the travel ban was implemented "in light of extraordinarily high COVID-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating" in India.

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The travel ban does not apply to U.S. citizens or permanent residents and their spouses and exempts some individuals, including humanitarian workers and students.

Travelers from India are not allowed U.S. entry if they have been in India for 14 days or longer.

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Even with an exemption, travelers still must meet requirements for international travel set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC requires that all travelers entering the United States have proof of a negative COVID-19 test result at least three days before arrival. The requirement also applies to travelers who have received a coronavirus vaccine.

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International travelers also are required to self-quarantine and take another test three to five days after their arrival.

President Joe Biden told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week that the United States would send oxygen supplies and vaccine materials. India has had difficulty in procuring oxygen at many of its hospitals.

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The White House said the United States will deliver more than $100 million in supplies. including personal protective equipment, oxygen, coronavirus test kits and masks.

India on Tuesday surpassed 20 million total coronavirus cases since the pandemic began more than a year ago, and has seen its most severe wave of the disease over the past several weeks. Last weekend, it became the first country in the world to record 400,000 new cases in a single day.

The only other country to see 20 million cases is the United States, which surpassed the mark in late December, according to Johns Hopkins University. India is the second-most populous nation in the world with 1.4 billion people.

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Numerous states in India have been placed under lockdown, including New Delhi's union territory through Monday.

India's health ministry reported more than 368,000 new cases Monday and 3,400 deaths. Just 2% of India's population has been fully vaccinated.

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