Visas shutdown over coronavirus: With growing number of novel coronavirus cases in the country and tourists being among the largest group of patients, the Government of India late on Wednesday decided to scrap all regular and e-visas to the country. The Bureau of Immigration issued a notification stating that visas/e-visas granted before March 11 to the nationals of Spain, France, and Germany will be suspended with immediate effect till April 15. The government has advised people who need to make trips to India for essential work to contact the mission concerned. The exceptions to the visa shutdown apply to visas for diplomats, UN/international organisations and project visas.

The notification said visas/e-visas of foreign nationals, who have a travel history to these countries on or after February 1, will also stand suspended. This notification  willcome into effect from 1200 GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure. The notification further urged Indians to avoid travelling to France, Spain, and Germany.

The largest group of infected people in the country are tourists from Italy, which is possibly the reason the government has gone ahead with its decision to shut down visas for more than a month. Several countries have shut down their schools and colleges in view of the outbreak.

The decision was taken immediately just after Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Tuesday held a meeting, where secretaries from various ministries and departments were present, this high-level meeting was held to examine the current scenario of the country, and what immediate actions to be taken from COVID-19, a statement of Union Health Ministry said.

Till now a total of 67 cases have been confirmed positive for novel coronavirus in the country, the ministry said. Despite the Maharashtra government banning the sale of tickets for the first IPL match on March 29, the BCCI is still going ahead with the tournament.

Meanwhile, the WHO has declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.

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