Huge Covid spike in India has led maximum countries to ban Indian flights and any Indians to travel to their countries, US is one of them.
Last week on April 30th 2021, US President Joe Biden announced a strict ban for all Indian flights due to extreme outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in India. The announcement however took its effect from 4th of May.
In the meanwhile, it is quiet concerning and depressing for Indian-Americans who for the time period came back to India to either look after their families or pay last rites, but some how got struck in this native country after India announced the lockdown and ban for any travel.
As America is experiencing a gradual reduction in its COVID cases after the vaccination, India at the same time faces the second-wave COVID crisis of an unprecedented scale.
To avoid any further contamination, America took the decision to banning Indian flights for an indefinite period.
Beyond America, the list of travel bans is a long one: the Canada, U.K., Germany, Belgium, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Oman, Kuwait, Indonesia, Malawi, the Maldives, Tanzania, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Thailand and Italy.
Perhaps the most severe restrictions are for Australian citizens. The 9,000-plus Aussies living and visiting in India are unable to return home, including cricket players who had come to participate in Indian Premier League matches. The Australian government threatened those who skirt the ban with jail time ranging from 14 days up to five years, a $50,000 fine or both — but Prime Minister Scott Morrison later said it was “highly unlikely” that the maximum penalties would be levied.
Stranded visitors are posting in a Facebook support group called “Australians Stuck in India,” which has a growing community of 30,000 members. The group has become a place to seek advice, quell anxiety and update travel information.
In such a situation many families in US find themselves separated from their loved ones more than 13,000 kms away across two continents. Some of these people say that they are now stuck in India for an indefinite period as the American consulates have also been shut down.
Shraddha Chakradhar a blogger at Stat-news explains that the Covid-19 hasn’t yet hit India severely but the warnings are more hyped as compared to that of the USA.
The travel bans are designed to protect the rest of the world from a dangerous variant that has yet to be fully analysed. And many health experts say travel bans are effective public health measures.
Radhika Sunderaj, one of the many stranded Indian-Australians is in a deep worry over the well-being of her family and friends who are in Australia, and here she is struck in India because she came India last year to plan her son’s wedding but while scheduling her trip back to Australia, she found that it was cancelled. Her flight ticket money, however, got refunded to her credit card upon the cancellation.
An Indian-American lady named Neha Mahajan tweeted on May 4th asking if there is anyone in India with H1B visa stamping. She further explains that her husband who has been on H1B visa stamp since the year 2008 had to travel back to India on 17th of April to attend the last rites of his dead father, but unfortunately during the exact period, the US embassy in India got closed. This led to a matter of fact that he won’t be able to travel back to America unless he has a visa stamping upon his passport.
V. Raman Kutty, an epidemiologist and honorary chairman of the non-profit organization Health Action by People in Thrissur, Kerala, wonders if it all could have been avoided. He says that if the global community joins together to ensure that all countries have access to vaccines, perhaps the variant in India would not have emerged, because that is the fight India would have definitely won.