On Monday, May 25, over 80 flights scheduled to take off from New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) were canceled, as were numerous other flights across India, on the day that domestic flight operations resumed following the easing of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions. Many flights were canceled at short notice, without any prior notification to passengers from airlines or officials. The cancelations have been partly blamed on last-minute changes to conditions involved in the reopening of domestic air routes, with many states capping the number of daily incoming and outgoing flights due to fears over the spread of COVID-19. Other flights were canceled to and from West Bengal due to disruptions caused by Cyclone Amphan, which struck the region on Wednesday, May 20. Operations will reportedly resume in West Bengal on Thursday, May 28. Domestic flights are scheduled to operate at one third capacity of the approved summer schedule between cities.
The resumption of domestic air travel comes despite the extension of India's lockdown, which will remain in effect until Sunday, May 31. However, in most parts of the country, restaurants have been allowed to reopen for takeaway orders and sports events have been permitted to resume without spectators. Inter-state travel by private car and bus is also permitted. Decisions on the further easing of restrictions will reportedly be left to state administrations.
Passenger rail services in India have been allowed to make a phased return to operations since May 12. All public transport by road, rail, and air had been suspended across the country since lockdown measures were introduced on March 25. Initially a limited number of trains were allowed to operate between New Delhi and other major cities. Social distancing measures remain in place on the trains and all passengers are required to wear a face covering. More routes will be added over the coming weeks.
Authorities have relaxed certain measures to allow for economic activity since May 4 in districts marked as orange and green zones in the government's plan to contain COVID-19. Some shops in residential areas have been permitted to reopen as long as they only operate at a maximum of 50 percent of the workforce and maintain social distancing measures. Industries such as information technology, agriculture, construction, and other rural sectors have also been permitted to resume operations.
On May 25, authorities reported India's largest daily increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 6,977 cases reported in the previous 24 hours. As of May 25, authorities have confirmed 138,917 cases of COVID-19 in the country and 4024 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantine measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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