On Monday, August 31, the Indian government extended the suspension of scheduled international passenger flights through till the end of September. Cargo flights and other flights specifically approved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation remain exempt from the restrictions. India has also begun rescheduling flights under specific "travel bubbles" with several countries, including the US, the UK, Germany, and France. Further bubbles are likely to be created in the coming weeks. International passenger flights have been suspended since March 22 due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Domestic flights resumed on May 25, although they are operating on a reduced schedule.
On Sunday, August 30, India reported a record number of COVID-19 cases reported in a single day anywhere across the world since the pandemic began. Health officials reported 78,761 cases on Sunday, eclipsing the 77,299 reported by the United States on July 16. India has recorded the third highest number of total cases behind the US and Brazil, but has been reporting a higher daily number of cases than these two countries for the past two weeks.
Despite the rising case numbers, authorities are still pushing ahead with some easing of restrictions, with the fourth stage of easing being named "Unlock 4.0". Under Unlock 4.0 states will no longer be permitted to impose lockdowns outside existing containment zones without approval from central government. Underground train networks have been permitted to reopen from September 7 and some school classes will resume on a voluntary basis. There will be no restrictions on intra-state movement of people and goods and social, cultural, religious, and other functions will be permitted with a limit of 100 people. However, cinemas, swimming pools, entertainment parks, and theatres will remain closed and people over 65 years of age and below ten are still advised to stay at home and only venture out for essential and health purposes.
As of August 31, there have been 3,621,245 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, and 64.469 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected in 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). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
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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