EU Commission urges limiting travel from India

File photo. Tourists enjoy an elephant safari at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in the Morigaon district of Assam, India, 17 November 2019. [Stringer/EPA/EFE]

The European Commission on Wednesday (12 May) urged EU member states to work together to restrict travel from India in order to limit the spread of a Covid-19 variant that has ravaged the Asian country.

The Commission said the measure, which would be temporary, follows an earlier proposal by the World Health Organisation to change the classification of that variant from “variant of interest” to “variant of concern”.

“It is important to limit to the strict minimum the categories of travellers that can travel from India for essential reasons and to subject those who may still travel from India to strict testing and quarantine arrangements,” the Commission said in a statement.

It said the restrictions should not apply to anyone travelling for compelling reasons, such as persons in need of international protection or for imperative family reasons.

EU citizens and long-term residents, as well as their family members, would also be exempt.

India’s coronavirus death toll passed 250,000 on Wednesday as the World Health Organization said the variant fuelling the surge had been found in dozens of countries across the globe.

There are fears that the virus is now raging in India’s vast rural hinterland where two-thirds of the population live, and where health care is patchy.

The swift spread has been blamed on huge political rallies and religious events that attracted millions of people over recent months, as well as the new B.1.617 variant first detected in India in October.

Subscribe to our newsletters