(FiveNation.com)- Middle Eastern countries are banning travelers from India in the wake of that country’s enormous struggle with COVID-19.
On Saturday, both Kuwait and Iran banned all travelers from India. Their concern was not just the fact that the pandemic is raging out of control in India, but that it’s being fueled by a new variant.
Officials in Iran didn’t say whether there have been any identified cases of the Indian variant in their country. At the very least, they are protecting themselves against a possible outbreak by barring travelers from the country.
As Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran, said on state TV recently:
“The Indian coronavirus is a new threat we face. The Indian virus is more dangerous than the English and Brazilian variants.
“All the eastern provinces should make sure people infected with the virus do not cross the borders into the country.”
To the east, Iran has borders with both Afghanistan and Pakistan, which have borders with India. Visitors could also travel to Iran from India through the Gulf.
At the same time, Kuwait decided to stop all commercial flights coming directly from India, until further notice. Local health authorities handed down the recommendation, which was eventually carried out by officials.
In a statement posted to Twitter, the directorate general of civil aviation in Kuwait said any passenger who is arriving in the country from India either indirectly or directly would be banned from entering, unless they spent at least 14 days out of India.
In other words, if the passenger were flying to Kuwait from another country, they would be allowed in Kuwait if they had been out of India for at least 14 days.
Exceptions to this rule allow any Kuwaiti citizen, domestic workers or their first-degree relatives to enter the country. Freight flights will still continue between India and Kuwait, the directorate general said.
Kuwait has more than 1 million Indian community members living in their country. This makes it the largest expatriate community in the country, the Indian embassy in Kuwait said.
Iran, meanwhile, banned all flights from and to Pakistan and India have been halted for now, according to the country’s civil aviation organization.
As local media in Iran reported, the country’s health minister, Saeed Namaki, asked the interior minister to “halt the direct and indirect transport of travelers from India.”
For the past few weeks, much of Iran has already been on a near full lockdown. Cases of the coronavirus have begun to spike in Iran, which is facing a fourth wave of this pandemic. In total, the country has recorded more than 2 million cases of COVID-19. Almost 70,000 people have died as a result of the virus.
Iran has recently reported a daily average of more than 20,000 coronavirus infections. The country has been slow to roll-out its vaccination program, too.
These travel bans follow similar ones implemented by the UAE, Canada and the UK, who all have banned flights traveling from India while the country is battling this new variant.