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U.S. to restrict travel from India effective May 4 as Covid surge devastates the country

U.S. to restrict travel from India effective May 4 as Covid surge devastates the country [ad_1]

The Biden administration will restrict travel from India as that country grapples with a big surge in coronavirus instances, White House press secretary Jen Psaki mentioned Friday.

The coverage will take impact Tuesday, May 4, Psaki mentioned in an announcement. The administration made the determination on the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she mentioned.

While Covid infections and deaths have been on the decline in the U.S. as tens of millions of Americans get vaccinated every day, India is in the grip of an unprecedented spike in instances.

India reported record daily death tolls from Covid on Wednesday and Thursday. The country is averaging about 3,050 Covid deaths per day, in accordance to knowledge compiled by Johns Hopkins University, although media experiences point out the official determine is being understated.

India has reported an common of about 357,000 new instances per day over the previous seven days — up about 26% from every week in the past, Johns Hopkins knowledge exhibits.

The country is battling a extremely contagious Covid variant, identified as B.1.617, which was first noticed there. The variant, which comprises two key mutations which were discovered individually in different coronavirus strains, is believed by some to be behind the newest wave of infections.

The variant has since been recognized in different nations, together with the United States.

There are few nonstop flights between the U.S. and India. United Airlines is the solely main U.S. provider working nonstop service between the two nations, with 4 day by day departures to India. Air India has an identical quantity scheduled for subsequent month, in accordance to aviation knowledge agency Cirium.

The new travel order is not anticipated to ban flights, however quite non-U.S. residents or everlasting residents who’ve just lately been in India — an identical format as restrictions which were positioned on a lot travel from the EU, China and Brazil, in accordance to an individual conversant in the matter.

“If we are going to do this, we ought to be clear about what we’re aiming to accomplish,” former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb mentioned of the new travel restrictions on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.”

“Most of the data shows that they have a negligible impact on transmission of the virus and introduction of the virus into the United States,” Gottlieb mentioned.

“I can assure you that the variants we’re seeing circulating in India, including the new 617 variant, are here in the United States already,” he mentioned.

The Biden administration, dealing with bipartisan calls to assist India get a grip on the staggering well being disaster, announced this week that the U.S. is sending the country greater than $100 million value of Covid provides, together with 1,000 oxygen cylinders, 15 million N95 masks and 1 million speedy diagnostic exams.

But lawmakers are nonetheless ratcheting up stress on President Joe Biden to do extra for India. In a letter Friday, members of the House Caucus on India and Indian Americans urged Biden to present the country with extra assets, together with vaccines.

“Our support for India to help beat back this latest wave is in the U.S. national interest as the pandemic will not end anywhere until it ends everywhere,” mentioned the letter, which was signed by two Republicans and two Democrats in the House group.

Psaki, speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday afternoon, mentioned two U.S. army planes full of provides landed in India that morning, including that extra was coming quickly.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken reached out to his Indian counterpart in latest days, Psaki famous.

Asked about travel from India at a White House briefing on the pandemic earlier Friday, Covid response coordinator Jeff Zients mentioned the U.S. was “continuously monitoring the situation.” He added that America was “in very close contact with our foreign counterparts” and that it will “continue to follow the CDC’s science-based guidance on travel and other matters.”

CNBC’s Leslie Josephs contributed to this report.

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic testing start-up Tempus, health-care tech firm Aetion Inc. and biotech firm Illumina. He additionally serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ and Royal Caribbean’s “Healthy Sail Panel.”

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