In a bid to help foreigners currently residing in India affected by travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Union Home Ministry Amit Shah has issued a letter regarding grant of consular services on a 'gratis' basis. India has cut off air travel both within and outside the country till the end of March.
"As a number of foreign nationals are in the country since the imposition of travel restrictions and are unable to exit the country during the validity of their visa, it has been decided to provide the essential consular services by Office of the Foreigners Regional Registration Officers/ Foreigners Registration Officers to foreign nationals presently in India," the MHA stated.
The Ministry said that a regular visa, e-visa or stay stipulation for all foreign nationals which have expired or would be expiring during the period from March 13, 2020 (midnight) to April 15, 2020 (midnight) would be extended till midnight of April 15, 2020, on 'gratis' basis over online application. If the application is made, the person will be granted consular services without levy of overstay penalty.
In India, 519 confirmed cases and 10 deaths have been reported so far. Over 30 states and Union Territories have announced complete lockdowns till at least March 31, suspending all public transport services and non-essential services.
The state governments were advised to issue appropriate orders to allow only essential services to operate in the 75 districts which have reported confirmed cases or casualties related to COVID-19.
Meanwhile, there are around 3.8 lakh confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world which has led to the death of around nearly 17,000 people. Meanwhile, around 101,608 have reportedly recovered from the infection. The hardest-hit regions, after China, are Italy, Iran, and South Korea, where the number of cases is rising by the hour.
(With ANI inputs; PTI Photo)