TAKING A serious view of the latest Covid surge, New Zealand has barred the entry of travellers from India, including its own nationals, for 18 days starting April 11. The move triggered concerns of a ripple effect in other nations with senior government officials in New Delhi pointing out that Covid-related decisions on air travel by foreign governments was “not in our hands”.

The move by New Zealand came after it recorded 23 new cases at its entry points Thursday, of which 17 were from India, according to a Reuters report. The suspension will be in place till April 28, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Late Wednesday, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, tweeted: “With new cases on rise in some states, our fight against COVID19 is in a critical stage. While we have facilitated more than 7.5 million people under Vande Bharat Mission so far; it is imperative that preventive measures are strictly implemented by all airports & airlines.”

Within its borders, New Zealand has virtually eliminated the coronavirus, with no locally transmitted cases reported in about 40 days. But Reuters reported that the country has been reviewing its border settings as more people with infections arrived recently, a majority being from India.

“If a country decides to suspend flights from India, it is within its rights to do so. What is in our hands is controlling the spread here, including at airports. We have already announced strict measures to ensure that safety guidelines are followed here. So far, our travel corridor arrangements are intact,” a senior Civil Aviation Ministry official said.

Currently, most of the countries to which flights operate from India are either repatriation flights or those operating under an air bubble arrangement — India has air bubble arrangements with 27 countries including the US, the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Qatar, and the UAE.

India’s national carrier Air India had last year come under fire from Hong Kong authorities for transporting passengers who tested positive upon arrival — the airline faced several 15-day bans.

According to Health Canada, between March 24 and April 5, nearly a third of international flights that landed with passengers that tested positive upon arrival were from Delhi.



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