The Biden administration will restrict travel from India on advice of the C.D.C. in light of the country’s high virus caseloads and multiple variants.
The policy will take effect Tuesday, May 4, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
“If we don’t help in India, I worry about an explosion of cases” around the world.Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health
The administration made the decision on the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Psaki said.
Doctors and news reports have cited anecdotal — but inconclusive — evidence to suggest that a homegrown variant called B.1.617 is driving the gigantic surge in coronavirus cases.
But researchers say that data so far suggests that another variant that has spread widely in Britain and the U.S., B.1.1.7., may also be a significant factor.
India is averaging about 3,050 Covid deaths per day, with record daily death tolls on Wednesday and Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, though media reports indicate the official figure is being understated.
The country has reported an average of about 357,000 new cases per day over the past seven days — up about 26% from a week ago, Johns Hopkins data shows.
In total, India has confirmed nearly 19 million infections and 208,000 deaths. Virologists say they expect the rate of infections to continue to increase for another two to three weeks, creating a national crisis with global repercussions.
The more the virus spreads, the more chances it has to mutate and create variants that could eventually resist current vaccines, threatening to undermine other countries’ progress in containing the pandemic, experts warn.
“If we don’t help in India, I worry about an explosion of cases” around the world, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health told CNN –his view dovetails others.
That’s why India’s Covid outbreak is a global problem that needs a coordinated response, they say.
The Biden administration announced this week that the U.S. is sending the country more than $100 million worth of Covid supplies, including 1,000 oxygen cylinders, 15 million N95 masks and 1 million rapid diagnostic tests.
The new travel order isn’t expected to ban flights, but rather non-U.S. citizens or permanent residents who have recently been in India — a similar format as restrictions that have been placed on much travel from the EU, China and Brazil, reports CNBC citing a person familiar with the matter.