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April 20, 2021

Pakistan bans passengers from India as corona cases spike

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April 20, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) on Monday decided to ban passengers coming into the country from India, after coronavirus cases in the neighbouring country witnessed a spike. The NCOC, in a statement, said the decision was taken during a meeting with the Federal Minister for Planning and Development and NCOC head Asad Umar in the chair. The restriction has been imposed on travellers coming from India both via road and air, the NCOC said, adding that the nuclear neighbour has been placed on Category C for two weeks — a category for countries whose passengers cannot travel to Pakistan. "The meeting was briefed on the coronavirus variant [....] the new variant is the reason behind the spread of coronavirus in India," the statement said.

The NCOC will convene a meeting on April 21 to review the countries placed on Category C, the statement added.

India has reported a record rise in coronavirus infections of 273,810, with 15 million total cases across the country on Monday.

The country reported 1619 new fatalities, taking the country-wide death toll to 178,769.

The Indian capital New Delhi will be under a strict lockdown for six days starting on Monday night, the city's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, adding the healthcare system was at a breaking point because of the worsening COVID-19 outbreak.

The city has also been facing acute shortages of hospital beds, medical oxygen supplies, and key medicines such as the anti-viral Remdesivir, Kejriwal said.

In recent weeks, criticism has mounted over how the federal government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has handled the health crisis, as religious festivals and election rallies continue despite reports of shortages of hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, and vaccination doses.

After imposing one of the world's strictest lockdowns for nearly three months last year, India’s government relaxed almost all curbs by the beginning of 2021, although many regions like New Delhi and the state of Maharashtra have introduced localised restrictions.