Well, almost everyone
In a country of 1.339 billion people, how exactly do you fight the spread of the novel coronavirus? Well, by closing off the entire nation of course!
India has taken the extreme measure of quarantining itself from the rest of the world, suspending all visas, except those issued for diplomatic, official, UN-international organisations, employment and projects until April 15th. This essentially means that all the foreign nationals of Indian origin who are usually able to enter India without a visa will now also need to apply for one. The new measures will be enforced effective 1200 GMT on March 13.
With the WHO declaring the virus a global pandemic and the state of things in Europe and the USA, India is not taking any chances. As the number of cases in the region grows to around 80, there are fears that its overstretched medical systems may not be able to handle the type of intensive care required.
“The recommendations of the committee of secretaries chaired by the cabinet sevretary were placed before the GoM. After detailed deliberations on preventive measure, actions taken and preparedness for Covid-19, the GoM took the decisions.”
India’s Healthy Ministry
The decision to suspend visas follows that of Italy who have enacted something similar by closing off travel to certain parts of the country. Is it the best means of fighting the virus? No. In fact, Italy’s move seems to have caused more widespread panic than anything else.
But with overcrowding due to the lack of proper infrastructure a major problem in India, the move is a start. The key now is to start testing for Covid-19 extensively and ensuring that those quarantined, stay in quarantine. South Korea and Singapore may have been two of the worst hit countries but it’s response to it has led experts to believe that the virus can actually be contained. Perhaps the Indian government can look at how they handled it and model it’s response after theirs.