INDIA. Mumbai: The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority and the General Civil Aviation Authority of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday announced that it will stop all its flights from India for 10 days starting April 25 (Sunday) due to the massive rise in India’s caseload of the coronavirus cases.
The UAE is known to be the busiest route for all international flights from India and the flights between Indian cities and Dubai have been operating even during the pandemic as the UAE is home to more than three million Indians, one of the largest concentrations of expatriates in West Asia.
Both Indian and UAE carriers fly between multiple Indian cities and four in UAE — Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Ras Al Khaimah. Because of the proposed ban, the passengers are expected to rush to fly to UAE on Friday and Saturday to reach before 11.59 pm on Saturday, an airline official said.
Sharing a statement, the UAE said arrival passengers from India through other countries are not allowed to enter unless they were staying for 14 days in those countries. However, the departure and cargo flights between UAE and India will continue to operate. UAE citizens, diplomatic delegations, official delegations, and flights of businessmen will be exempted from this restriction. The ten-day quarantine will be mandatory for these categories and they will have to undergo an RT-PCR test on the day of arrival, day 4, and day 8. The test results will only be accepted from authorized labs that generate a QR code, the statement said.
The UAE is the latest to impose strict travel restrictions on India this week due to COVID-19. The UK, France, Hong Kong, Oman, and Australia have also announced similar restrictions as a precautionary measure. Besides, several other countries such as the United States (US), Singapore, and New Zealand have also imposed fresh travel restrictions on all travellers coming from India due to the daily spike in its cases and deaths.
Besides the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised all American citizens to avoid travelling to India even if they have been administered vaccine doses. The CDC at present has placed India among ‘level 4’ countries, or those with ‘very high level of cases. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on April 08 that the country has temporarily suspended the entry of all passengers from India including its citizens for 14 days.
Air India drops UK flights
In another development, India’s flag carrier Air India on Wednesday announced the cancellation of all flights between India and the United Kingdom from April 24 to April 30. The announcement came a day after Britain placed India on its travel “red list” over a surge in COVID-19 cases. During this period, the airline will run flights from Mumbai and Delhi only once per week. Air India further informed that detailed updates regarding the rescheduling of the flights, refunds, and waivers would be announced soon on its website and social media channels.
“Passengers who were to travel between India and UK may note that given recent restrictions announced by the UK, flights from/to the UK stand cancelled from April 24 to April 30, 2021. We are in the process to schedule once a week flight to the UK from Delhi and Mumbai. Further updates regarding rescheduling, refunds, and waivers will be informed shortly,” an AI official said.
The UK government added India to its travel ban list, with the new rules coming into force on Friday, amid soaring coronavirus cases and the emergence of a new variant that scientists fear could prove partly resistant to vaccines. Under the new rules, anyone who is not a British or Irish national or doesn’t have a UK residence permit will be refused entry into Britain if they have been in India in the last 10 days.
The Union Government’s plan to restart the schedule of international flights this summer looks unlikely under the present circumstances, since several countries, including the UK and Saudi Arabia, have started imposing fresh curbs on international flights from India to curb the increasing coronavirus cases.
Permission to use drones
In yet another development, the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have granted a conditional exemption to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for conducting a feasibility study of COVID-19 vaccine delivery using drones in collaboration with IIT Kanpur. The permission exemption is valid for one year or until further orders.
India on Thursday recorded 3,14,835 new COVID-19 cases, the highest one-day spike seen ever in the pandemic. The death toll in the last 24 hours stood at 2,104. India’s total active caseload reached 22,91,428 with 184,657 deaths.