US to restrict travel from India due to COVID-19 surge

·2 min read

Corrections & clarifications: An earlier version of this story misstated from where travel will be restricted. President Joe Biden's administration plans to restrict travel from India to the U.S.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden's administration plans to restrict travel from India to the U.S. beginning Tuesday due to a surge in COVID cases.

The move follows a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

"The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high COVID-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India," she said in a statement.

The restrictions apply to foreign nationals traveling from India to the U.S., not U.S. citizens. Others exempted include lawful permanent residents of the U.S. and their families, foreign officials and those traveling for humanitarian, public health or national security reasons.

Exempt travelers still must follow the CDC's requirement to show proof of a negative COVID test or recovery from the virus no more than three days prior to boarding their flight to the United States. For unvaccinated travelers, the CDC recommends getting a test after returning to the U.S., too, and quarantining.

Airlines have been notified of the decision. Under the policy, flights from India won't be banned. The U.S. will continue to help India's public health response and supply the country with emergency supplies, according to the White House.

United and Air India each offer nonstop flights between the U.S. and India. United operates four flights per day and Air India offers a mix of daily and weekly service, according to aviation data company Cirium. United is not making any immediate changes to its schedule, spokesman Charles Hobart said.

India has seen a crushing increase in COVID-19 cases. In February, there were about 350,000 coronavirus cases in India and 2,670 deaths. So far in April, there have been more than 3 million cases, a ninefold increase, and 17,000 deaths, according to data from S.V. Subramanian, a professor of population health and geography at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The U.S. government already recommends against travel to India, with the country at the highest alert level in ratings by the CDC and the U.S. State Department.

Earlier this week, the White House said the U.S. would share as many as 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it receives federal approval. In a call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Biden pledged "steadfast support for the people of India who have been impacted by the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

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Contributing: Karen Weintraub

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: US restrictions on travel from India coming due to COVID-19 surge