Due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan, India has suspended all visas from China. This suspension will be temporary and will likely be lifted once the virus is under control.
The new strain of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was identified in Wuhan on 31 December 2019. Over 60,000 cases have been reported, the majority of which are in mainland China.
However, with confirmed patients in other countries, some states like India are taking action to prevent the spread of the disease.
What Does the India Visa Suspension Mean for Travelers?
Under normal circumstances, travelers from most countries, including China must obtain an electronic visa or eVisa for India before entering the country.
A minority of nationalities must apply at an embassy for a traditional consular visa.
On 2 February, it was announced that these services would be temporarily unavailable for certain travelers in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus.
In addition, all existing visas for these groups of would-be visitors have been canceled and are no longer valid. Individuals who fall into the categories below are therefore not permitted to travel to India until the suspension is lifted or unless they are granted special permission.
Who Is Affected by the India Visa Suspension?
The decision to suspend Indian visas will not affect all international travelers. The majority of travelers from most countries will still be able to apply for an Indian eVisa and existing visas will continue to be valid.
However, India visas are currently suspended for the following groups:
- Chinese citizens
- Foreign nationals living in China
- Anyone who has visited China within the last 14 days
Anyone who has been to China within the last 2 weeks or who has a Chinese passport is currently unable to apply for a visa for India.
All visas granted to these travelers before 2 February are now invalid.
However, the following advisory notice was released by Director General of Civil Aviation Arun Kumar addressing individuals with exceptional circumstances:
“All those who have a compelling reason to visit India may contact the Embassy of India in Beijing or the Indian consulates in Shanghai or Guangzhou, as well as the Indian Visa Application Centres in these cities.”
Nationals of all other countries should be able to obtain the necessary visa for India as usual, as long as they have not been to China within the last 2 weeks and/or have been diagnosed or are suspected of having coronavirus.
Check the Indian eVisa requirements to see if you are eligible. The electronic visa can be obtained online without the need to travel to an embassy.
How Has Coronavirus Affected India?
So far, only 3 positive cases of 2019-nCoV have been identified in India, all on the southern state of Kerala.
There have also been confirmed cases of coronavirus in Indian citizens abroad, including 2 of the crew members of an isolated cruise ship in Japan.
The coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan in the Hubei province of China. Although Hubei is far from the Indian border, cases of the disease have occurred across the PRC and a handful of cases have been reported in several other countries.
In response, India has evacuated 647 of its own citizens, along with 7 Maldivians from Hubei by air. The evacuees have been placed in quarantine for 14 days in a medical camp in Manesar, near Delhi.
21 airports across India have installed thermal screening and medical check-up stations, including at Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata. Quarantine centers have been established and those showing symptoms are being directed to these facilities for testing.
With these precautions and the temporary visa ban on travelers from China, India has only had 3 confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV, none of which have yet proved fatal.
While there is very little risk of catching coronavirus in the country, international visitors should discuss the vaccines needed to travel to India with their healthcare practitioner a few weeks before their departure.
What Is 2019-nCoV
The Wuhan coronavirus, named 2019-nCoV, is a new strain of coronavirus that had never been seen in humans before December 2019. Being a novel virus, no cure has been found yet.
Coronaviruses are a broad family of viruses, ranging from 4 mild variants that cause the common cold to serious types that cause illnesses like SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).
2019-nCoV causes mild disease in most patients. However, fatalities have occurred—mainly among the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
Typical symptoms are similar to those of a cold or flu:
- Sore throat
Individuals who discover they have difficulty breathing should consult a doctor immediately and, if necessary, self-isolate.
There have been over 60,000 confirmed cases worldwide, with the vast majority in mainland China and a few hundred in other countries. The number of patient deaths due to coronavirus is rising in China; however, there have only been 2 fatalities elsewhere in the world.
There is a huge international effort to contain the spread of the virus and find an effective method of treating it.
Many countries, such as India, have placed restrictions on travel from China until the Wuhan coronavirus is contained.
Travelers coming from other parts of the world are still free to visit India as normal and apply for the eVisa.