March 28, 2020
COVID-19, which has claimed around 42,000 lives between December 2019 and March 2020, has been declared a global pandemic by the WHO
This health crisis has disrupted human and goods traffic globally and is expected to cost the global economy more than US$1 trillion in 2020
India started screening incoming air passengers followed by suspension of visas and imposing a ban on international flights ahead of any other country
Apart from providing comprehensive healthcare assistance, India has launched a US$22.5 billion relief plan to help the most vulnerable ride out the crisis
The Government of India has taken preemptive steps to contain the spread of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). India had put in place a comprehensive response system at its borders much before WHO declared it as a public health emergency of international concern on January 30. COVID-19, which has claimed around 42,000 lives between December 2019 and March 2020, has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). More than 860,000 people have so far contracted the disease in over 180 countries. With a cure believed to be 12-18 months away, the impact of the disease is expected to spread rapidly. This health crisis has disrupted human and goods traffic globally and is expected to cost the global economy more than US$1 trillion in 2020.
As part of its initiatives, the Government of India had started screening incoming air passengers followed by suspension of visas and imposing a ban on international flights ahead of any other country. Thermal screening of incoming passengers from China and Hong Kong was started on January 18, before the first case of Coronavirus was detected in India on January 30. A look at the global scenario would highlight that Italy and Spain, which are devastated by COVID-19, had started screening travellers 25 days and 39 days respectively, after the first reported case. India took a number of proactive measures, such as travel restrictions, adding more countries and airports for screening, suspension of visas and self-quarantine measures to effectively contain, prevent and manage the spread of the disease.
With the evolving global spread of the disease, travel advisories were revised and airport screening was expanded to all airports across India. Screening of passengers took place at 30 airports, 12 major and 65 minor ports and land borders. Over 3.6 million passengers have been screened. After being screened by health authorities at the airports, passengers were quarantined or sent to hospitals, based on risk assessment by health authorities. Details of even those who were cleared by health authorities were shared with the State Government authorities so that they can be kept under the surveillance of their respective State/UT Governments for the required number of days. As of March-end, around 1,400 people in India have been reported with Coronavirus while 35 have died in a nation of 1.3 billion.
There has been continued communication between the Central and State Governments to best battle the Coronavirus outbreak. Apart from providing the most comprehensive healthcare assistance, India has announced a US$22.5 billion relief plan to help the most vulnerable ride out the crisis. Meanwhile, there have been several initiatives like the Invest India Business Immunity Platform to protect the future of foreign investment and trade activities. Such platforms connect innovators, startups, and MSMEs and help them showcase their solutions relevant to the ongoing crisis as well as the future of business. While the Coronavirus will slow down economic activities around the world, impacting India in the process, the Government is taking all measures to ensure that the country springs back to action at the earliest.