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India to ban all incoming international flights due to COVID-19 crisis


India to ban all incoming international flights due to COVID-19 crisis

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Photo: Rajanish Kakade/AP Photo

The Indian government will today begin its ban on all incoming international flights for the next week to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the potentially fatal COVID-19 disease. Alongside this measure, the government has imposed a day-long national curfew.

These control measures come amid fears that the number of infections in the country has been severely underestimated. Health officials have only tested 15,000 people and confirmed 315 cases. But some health experts argue that the government should have deployed more tests, which might have indicated that the number of infected is in the tens of thousands.

The government’s slow response was due in part to its desire to prepare its patchy and already overstretched healthcare system. For a population of 1.3 billion, the ratio of doctors and hospitals to people is severely low. Furthermore, the country’s dense cities make viral transmission rapid and quarantine measures less effective.

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Despite the travel ban and curfew, the virus will likely continue to spread. As doctors administer more tests next week, expect the number of official cases to skyrocket. India’s healthcare system will almost certainly come under strain and perhaps reach a breaking point. It is likely that in the coming weeks India will be a major focus of the pandemic.

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