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Could rising Omicron cases spark travel bans for Indian students?

India is currently going through its third COVID-19 wave, raising concerns that popular study abroad destinations could impose a travel ban on international students in the country.

“India is clearly in the third wave of COVID-19, and the whole thing appears to be driven by Omicron,” Dr. NK Arora, chair of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization, was reported as saying.

The state has detected 1,892 Omicron cases, but Arora said the new variant is likely to account for about 50% of new COVID cases in urban areas, overtaking Delta as the predominant variant. So, will India’s travel ban be activated? Here’s what we know:

Previously, leading study abroad destinations including the UK and Canada imposed travel bans on India when travelers from the country were deemed too risky. Source: Punit Paranjpe / AFP

India travel ban: What we know

Previously, countries like the UK and Canada imposed travel bans on India Because of concerns about variable delta. The UK started its ban on India on April 19, 2021, while the Canadian ban was on April 22, 2021.

The UK’s “traffic light” system defines a country’s status as red, amber or green, each of which entails different travel and quarantine rules and conditions – determined by daily case numbers. The UK changed India’s status from red to amber on August 8, 2021 – while Canada took five months, lifting its travel ban on India on September 27, 2021.

“Following the peak of the second wave of COVID-19 in India in May, pressure on the Indian healthcare system has increased, with the number of COVID-19 cases declining,” the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said on August 8. , 2021.

Canada had no explanation as to why the travel ban was lifted but the Canadian government said in a statement: “From September 27, 2021, direct flights from India to Canada will be resumed.”

India travel ban

As of January 5, 2022, cases of COVID-19 in India have risen rapidly, raising concerns about a possible travel ban in India. Source: Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP

As of January 5, 2022, cases of COVID-19 in India were on a rapid rise and there are no signs of declining anytime soon. However, India’s central government has advised all states to reactivate COVID war rooms and strengthen their health infrastructure, particularly around oxygen supply and hospital bed capacity.

Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the World Health Organization, warned that “India could see a big boom. The next two weeks will tell.”

While Omicron cases are increasing across India, there has been no travel ban for India announced by the UK or Canada. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said, “If you are a non-US citizen, or a non-US immigrant and have not been fully vaccinated, you will not be allowed to enter the United States. Limited exceptions apply only to the requirement to show proof of vaccination.”

At the time of writing, the UK government said on its website that there are currently no countries or territories on the red list for travel to England. “We are keeping the Red List under constant review and countries and territories can be added to the Red List at any time,” she said.

Canada applies travel bans to any high-risk country or in the case of Omicron, variables that are very worrying according to advice from Public Health Canada.

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