In a big development on Saturday, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced complete closure of the passenger movement through all immigration land check posts at the India-Pakistan border from March 16 until further orders. Moreover, the movement of passengers will be restricted at the border with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and Myanmar barring for select immigration land check posts from March 15. Also, the cross-border India-Bangladesh bus and train services will be suspended from March 15 to April 15.
Additionally, there will be extensive health inspections at the operational entry points. Any foreign or Indian national having a history of travel to 7 COVID-19 affected countries namely China, Iran, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and the Republic of Korea will be quarantined. A concession has been made for diplomats and UN officials holding valid visas, allowing them to cross the border via Integrated Check Post Attari subject to health screening.
First detected in Wuhan in December 2019, COVID-19- the novel coronavirus has affected nearly 135 countries in the world. Presently, there are 1,42,538 confirmed cases of COVID-19 which has led to the death of 5,391 people. So far, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India is 84 while the death of one person in Kalaburagi and Delhi each has been reported. India has suspended all visas, barring for a few categories such as diplomatic and employment apart from keeping in abeyance the visa-free travel facility to OCI cardholders till April 15. Moreover, the Centre has “strongly advised” Indians to avoid all non-essential travel abroad.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak as 'pandemic'. Two days later, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that Europe had become the new epicentre of the novel coronavirus. To buttress this point, he highlighted that more cases were being reported every day in Europe than they were in China at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak.