WebMD News Brief

U.S. Restricting Travel From India

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May 3, 2021 -- The U.S. will begin restricting travel from India on Tuesday as a coronavirus surge continues to swell across the country.

The Biden administration announced the decision on Friday based on advice from the CDC.

“The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high COVID-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said in a statement to reporters.

About one in five tests are coming back positive in India, the newspaper reported, though public health officials have suggested that the case numbers are much higher since laboratories are overwhelmed. The contagious B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the U.K., appears to be contributing to the spread of the virus, along with a variant known as B.1.617, which was first identified in India.

India set another global record on Friday with more than 386,000 new daily cases, according to CNN, which pushed the worldwide coronavirus case total past more than 150 million. Friday marked the ninth day in a row that India has reported more than 300,000 cases per day. The country is also now reporting more than 3,000 deaths per day.

Doctors and public health officials in India are racing to provide care for new patients, often with little space in hospitals and low supplies of oxygen. The U.S. Air Force delivered initial shipments of oxygen cylinders, test kits, and personal protective gear on Friday, Psaki told reporters.

The new travel order isn’t expected to ban flights, according to CNBC, but it will restrict non-U.S. citizens who have traveled to India within the previous 14 days. Few nonstop flights move between the U.S. and India, the news outlet reported. United Airlines is the only major U.S. airline that operates nonstop service between the two countries with four flights per day, and Air India offers a mix of daily and weekly nonstop flights.