India will suspend all tourist visas to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country, the government said in a statement on Wednesday.
“All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/international organizations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020,” it said in the statement.
The order will come into effect from 1200 GMT on March 13.
The decision was taken at the meeting of group of ministers held here under the chairmanship of Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.
“All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International organisations, employment and project visas stand suspended till 15th April 2020. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure,” the statement said.
Visa-free travel facility granted to OCI card holders is also kept in abeyance till April 15.
Any foreign national who intends to travel to India for compelling reason may contact the nearest Indian Mission, the release said, adding that all incoming travellers, including Indian nationals, arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after February 15 will be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days.
Over 1,18,000 positive cases have been reported globally across 114 countries.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on March 11 said that according to its assessment, COVID-19 “can be characterised as a pandemic.”
“WHO has been assessing this outbreak round-the-clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” it said.
“Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.