India suspends tourist visas until April 15 amid COVID-19 scare

Source: Xinhua| 2020-03-12 08:36:09|Editor: Liu
Video PlayerClose

NEW DELHI, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The Indian government has suspended all tourist visas amid COVID-19 scare.

"All existing visas except diplomatic, official, UN/International organizations, employment, project visas -- will be suspended till April 15. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on March 13, 2020 at the port of departure," said a statement released by the Indian government on Wednesday. "Any foreign national who intends to travel to India for compelling reason may contact the nearest Indian mission."

The decision was taken during a meeting of a group of ministers after novel coronavirus cases in the country sharply spiked.

According to Health Ministry officials so far 60 cases were recorded across the country.

"Visa-free travel facility granted to overseas citizen of India (OCI)- cardholders will also be kept in abeyance until April 15, 2020. This suspension will also take effect on March 13," the statement said.

The Health Ministry has launched a 24x7 helpline number to provide support to people regarding queries on novel coronavirus. The ministry is also circulating the precautionary measures recommended by WHO for the prevention of novel coronavirus in India.

Authorities in various states have closed primary level schools and cinema halls until March 31 as a precautionary measure.