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Coronavirus update: India suspends visas for travellers from Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan

India has intensified medical screening a day after two more positive cases of coronavirus were reported in the country. Five people are now infected with coronavirus in India.

The government has said that all the visas (regular and e-visa) issued to nationals of Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan on or before Tuesday have been suspended. “They may not enter India from air, land or seaport. Those requiring to travel to India due to compelling reasons, may seek fresh visa from nearnest Indian Embassy/Consulate,” the government said in a statement.

It also said that the visa suspension for Chinese nationals on or before February 5 will remain in force. The visas of all the other foreign nationals issued on or after February 1, and who are in countries affected by coronavirus, have been suspended. Such people will have to get a fresh visa if they want to enter India due to unavoidable circumstances, said the government.

“Diplomats, officials of UN and other international bodies, OCI cardholders and aircrew from above countries are exempted from such restrictions on entry,” said the government statement, adding that they will have to compulsorily undergo medical screening.

The people who are entering India from these countries will have to undergo medical screening and are required to furnish the details of their travel history, the statement further added.

The two new cases – one from Delhi and one from Telangana – have increased the chances of community transmission of the virus (called Sars-Cov-2) in India.

One of the cases is that of a 45-year-old man who has been admitted to an isolation ward in Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital along with four other members of his family who are awaiting test results. With instances of infected people with no symptoms spreading the infection to others being reported, the health ministry’s surveillance team is now visiting and calling up everyone the man travelled with or came in contact with since his return on February 26.

In most people, the virus causes symptoms such as fever, fatigue, dry cough, muscle pain and difficulty breathing. A few get headaches, dizziness, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Those without symptoms will be quarantined at home and asked to call if they develop symptoms, while those with symptoms will be isolated and tested, according to the health ministry. But it is near impossible to track all the strangers the man may have come in contact with over the past week.

Till Monday night, 3,245 samples have been tested at Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) labs, of which five tested positive (including the three cases in Kerala). Another 23 samples where the disease is suspected are being tested, with 15 labs under ICMR equipped to test for Covid-19.

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