Experts call for travel restrictions as COVID-19 cases surge in India

New Delhi — The coronavirus is spreading much faster in India than in any other country in the world, worrying experts about the threat posed to the rest of the world. 

India has been reporting an average of nearly 150,000 new cases daily over the past week. On Tuesday, the country reported nearly 162,000 new infections — slightly lower than an all-time high of 168,912 fresh cases from a day earlier, raising the total number of cases in the country to nearly 13.6 million. 

Experts believe the surge of infections in India poses a threat to other parts of the world because international travel hasn’t been significantly restricted.

“The high infection rate in India is worrying both because it indicates that in the absence of movement restrictions, and with significant vaccination, the virus continues to pose a serious threat,” Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan, founder and director of the Washington-based Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy told CBS News.   

“But because of India’s size, it is unlikely that the world would be done with Covid unless we are able to stop the epidemic here.” 

India is now only behind the U.S., which has reported more than 31 million cases. Brazil at number three has 13.4 million cases.  

The U.S. and Brazil have been adding an average of around 70,000 new cases daily for the past week — a number that India now doubles. More than 171,000 people in India have died from the virus, 879 of them on Monday. 

Professor K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, explained that if there are no significant travel restrictions, the virus surge is bound to reach other countries.

“We know how the British, Brazilian and other variants of the virus reached other countries… so international travel is of great concern,” Reddy said. 

Another epidemiologist, Dr. Lalit Kant, the former head of epidemiology at the Indian Council of Medical Research, agreed that the surge of COVID-19 cases in India will have a “ripple” effect globally. 

India has taken several steps to curb the surge of the virus, banning gatherings and imposing fines on violations of precautionary measures such as the use of masks and social distancing. More than half of India’s 29 states have either imposed night curfews or enforced weekend lockdowns in parts or across the state.  

India coronavirus
Passengers outside Lokmanya Tilak Terminus railway complex in Mumbai on April 13, 2021.


India’s western state of Maharashtra, home to the country’s financial capital of Mumbai city — the worst affected state — has indicated the possibility of a complete lockdown. A decision is expected later this week. The state has reported more than 3.4 million cases so far, adding about 50,000 new cases daily. 

New Delhi, like many other cities, has shut schools and colleges, restricted gatherings at weddings and funerals, and reduced the number of people allowed in buses, trains, restaurants and cinemas.

However, there is very little possibility of the entire country or major parts of it going into a complete and strict lockdown like the one imposed a year ago that had a negative impact on the country’s economy and jobs

But there have been reports of hundreds of lockdown-anxious migrant workers already leaving big cities like Mumbai and Delhi for their hometowns — much like last year when millions of cash-strapped casual laborers who lost their jobs walked hundreds of miles to their homes: one of the reasons believed to have contributed to the spread of the virus into the country’s interiors.    

Elections and religious festival during the pandemic

While on the one hand the government is actively pushing for precautions and urging people to get vaccinated, on the other hand, it has allowed massive election rallies in several states and permitted large crowds at a Hindu religious festival — for which it has come under criticism. 

Politicians, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, have led dozens of massive election rallies in the past couple of weeks during campaigning for multi-phase state elections in four big Indian states and one federal territory that started last month. Footage of the rallies shown by local TV news outlets showed a blatant disregard for precautions like wearing masks and social distancing. 

“If at all the government was concerned and cared for people, it wouldn’t have held such massive election rallies… There is a big difference in what this government says and what it does,” said Dr. Vikas Bajpai, an assistant professor at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

India Hindu Festival
People participate in the ongoing Kumbh Mela festival, in Haridwar, India, on April 12, 2021.


Bajpai highlighted the shortage of hospital beds, vaccines, oxygen cylinders in top Indian cities like Mumbai and New Delhi to argue that the government has failed to scale up its health infrastructure in the past year.  

“I am not even talking about the rural areas of India… clearly, there is a sense of panic,” he said.

The government is also being criticized for not canceling or failing to enforce a COVID-appropriate behavior at Kumbh Mela, a weeks-long Hindu festival held in the northern Indian city of Haridwar.

At least three million people are gathered on the banks of the River Ganges, which is considered holy by Hindus, bathing in it to cleanse themselves of their sins. More than a hundred devotees have tested positive for coronavirus.

The festival is held once every 12 years in one of the four big cities on the river banks: Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain.

India is approving more vaccines soon 

Amid the surge in coronavirus cases and reports of vaccine shortage, the Indian government is opening doors to all major vaccines being administered globally. 

On Tuesday, the Drugs Controller General of India approved Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. Limited doses of the vaccine are expected to be available in the country by April end. This will be the third vaccine to be used in India. The other two being Oxford-AstraZeneca (being made in India as Covishield) and indigenously produced Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech. 

More than 100 million doses of two vaccines have been administered so far. The government has set itself a target of 250 million vaccinations by July end. 

The government on Tuesday also said it has fast-tracked emergency approvals for foreign-produced vaccines, making it possible for Pfizer, Moderna, and others to become available in India soon. 

“The first 100 beneficiaries of such foreign vaccines shall be assessed for seven days for safety outcomes before it is rolled out for further immunization programme within the country,” said an Indian Health Ministry handout on Tuesday. 

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Bermuda issues stay-at-home order to curb COVID-19 surge

Bermuda issues stay-at-home order to curb COVID-19 surge

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AAA Is Expecting A Large Surge In Travel As Restrictions Ease

Monday, April 12th 2021, 4:46 pm

By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. –

As more and more states and countries ease COVID-19 restrictions many Americans are now feeling the urge to travel.

AAA says nearly 80% of Americans are now planning to travel and they say that’s the highest number they’ve seen in more than a year. AAA Travel Agent Sharon Hunt says it’s important that travelers do their research though, especially as rules change. International trips require a negative COVID test or proof of recovery in the past 90 days to return to the United States.

Updates In Progress…

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Bangladesh to impose week-long air travel ban after COVID surge | Coronavirus pandemic News

All international and domestic flights to be banned for a week from Wednesday, coinciding with another lockdown amid spike in cases.

Bangladesh has announced plans to ban all international and domestic flights for a week from Wednesday, coinciding with yet another lockdown to counter a spike in novel coronavirus infections.

All international passenger flights to and from Bangladesh will remain suspended from April 14 to 20, the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) said on Sunday.

More than 500 flights will be cancelled because of the ban, said the CAAB’s Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman.

Domestic passenger flights and chartered helicopter flights are included in the suspension, while some exceptions may be made for medical evacuations, humanitarian relief and cargo flights, the aviation authority said.

A surge in COVID-19 cases since March prompted the government to enforce a nine-day nationwide shutdown until Tuesday, to be followed by yet another seven-day lockdown from Wednesday to slow the spread of the virus.

The authorities imposed a ban on air passengers from Europe and 12 other countries on April 3. Passenger flight operations on domestic routes were suspended on April 5.

Ex-PM tests positive

Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, her oppositional Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) said on Sunday.

Zia has been asymptomatic and was doing well, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, a senior leader of the BNP, told a news briefing, urging people to pray for her.

The 74-year old politician has been under the supervision of her private physicians at home in Dhaka ever since she was released from jail after the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina suspended her prison term on health grounds in March last year.

Zia, a three-time prime minister in the 1990s and 2000s, had been in prison since February 2018 after a court sentenced her to five years in jail for misappropriating funds meant for orphans. A higher court later doubled the term.

Eight other staff members of her home have also been tested positive for the COVID-19, according to her physician Mohammad Al Mamun.

Bangladesh, which reported its first cases of the novel coronavirus last March, reported its highest single-day increase in infections on Friday, with 7,462 cases. So far, the country has reported some 684,756 cases and 9,739 deaths.

The South Asian nation previously imposed a nationwide shutdown for more than two months beginning March 2020.

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Airlines hustling to unwind pandemic cutbacks with surge in summer travel ahead – The Keene Sentinel

Airlines hustling to unwind pandemic cutbacks with surge in summer travel ahead  The Keene Sentinel

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Delta cancels 100 flights due to COVID travel surge

Delta canceled more than 100 flights over the weekend after pandemic travel numbers soared and the airline was left without staff to handle the surge, Fox Business reports.

Why did Delta cancel 100 flights?

Delta canceled more than 100 flights over the weekend due to staff shortages. And the shortages happened on a weekend that saw a high number of travelers.

  • In fact, the Transportation Security Administration said 1,543,474 people went through checkpoints on Sunday alone, which is almost 10 times as many people who traveled on the same date last year (122,029).

Delta could not handle the surge of travelers with such short staffs, so it canceled some flights. Per Associated Press, Delta opened up middle seats as well — almost one month ahead of when the company said it planned to do so.

Delta apologizes for canceled flights

“We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience, and the majority have been rebooked for the same travel day,” Delta said in a statement, Fox Business reports.

  • “Delta teams have been working through various factors, including staffing, large numbers of employee vaccinations and pilots returning to active status,” the airlines said, according to Fox Business.

Delta to open middle seats

Delta said it plans to end its middle seat policy — which blocks travelers from booking middle seats in order to keep travelers socially distanced — on May 1, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

  • Delta joins other airlines — like American Airlines, Southwest, Jet Blue and Hawaiian airlines — which added middle seat policies before ending them to deal with the rise in air travel traffic.

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Hawaii Gets Tourism Surge as Coronavirus Rules Loosen Up | Hawaii News

HONOLULU (AP) — Tourists are traveling to Hawaii in larger numbers than officials anticipated, and many are wandering around Waikiki without masks, despite a statewide mandate to wear them in public.

Hawaii’s “Safe Travels” program reported that about 28,000 people flew into and throughout the islands on Saturday, the highest number of travelers in a single day since the pandemic began, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.

Before the pandemic, Hawaii had about 30,000 arrivals daily. When quarantine rules were put in place early in the pandemic, arrivals plummeted and the state’s tourism-dependent economy tanked.

In October, state officials launched a pre-travel testing program that allowed visitors to sidestep quarantine rules. But travel remained sluggish until the second week in March, when spring break tourists started arriving in the islands.

Travel company Pleasant Holidays president and CEO Jack Richards told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the agency’s bookings increased 30% over the last two weeks.

“We haven’t seen travel demand for Hawaii this strong for over a year,” Richards said. “I thought we would have a U-shaped recovery; it’s V-shaped. January and February were terrible, but we’ve gone from zero to 150 mph in two weeks.”

Hawaii News Now reported that officials are receiving complaints about visitors not wearing masks. With a few exceptions, people in Hawaii are still required to wear masks while in public.

“I’m a believer that if you’re outdoors, you can remove it,” said Glenn Day, a visitor from Indiana.

Visitors said rules in their home states are different than those in place in Hawaii.

“We carry our masks around and if we walk into an establishment we’ll wear one, and if people look like they’re uncomfortable with us around, we’ll put one on. But otherwise, like I said where we come from, people are really not required to wear them,” Wisconsin visitor Larry Dopke said.

“I’m not wearing one right now, I’m outdoors,” said Todd Hasley who was visiting from Idaho. “Boise city has an indoor mask mandate. The rest of the state has a mask recommendation.”

Some lawmakers expressed concern about a possible backlash from residents.

“I think we’re all going to have to be prepared for a potential surge in tourism,” said Hawaii state Rep. Scott Saiki, a Democrat. “I think we have to be prepared because the public may have a response to a sudden surge.”

Such a reaction could hinder economic recovery.

“Pushing back against tourism is the same thing as telling your neighbor they shouldn’t have a job,” said Carl Bonham, executive director of the University of Hawaii’s Economic Research Organization.

Hawaii requires all visitors and returning residents to get negative pre-travel COVID-19 tests before flying to the state to be exempt from the 10-day quarantine rule.

The island of Kauai has additional measures that will be in place until April 5. All visitors to Kauai must either spend three days on another island or quarantine at a county-approved resort for three days and then get second, post-arrival tests.

Violating the state’s coronavirus mandates, which are outlined in Hawaii Gov. David Ige’s latest emergency proclamation, is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to a $5,000 fine, a year in prison, or both.

Each island county’s police are responsible for enforcing the rules. Messages from The Associated Press seeking comment from the Honolulu Police Department regarding enforcement of mask rules in Waikiki was not immediately returned.

Tim Sakahara, a spokesman for Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, said in an email that the city recently put up banners throughout Waikiki reminding people to wear masks and remain socially distanced.

“These banners provide a tool to help Honolulu Police officers do their jobs in gaining compliance with COVID-19 rules,” Sakahara said. “The majority of residents and visitors are compliant with the rule or are cooperative when informed of it.”

However, some residents have also opposed wearing masks. Two people were arrested and two others were cited during a weekend anti-mask rally in Waikiki.

Hawaii has had among the lowest rates of confirmed coronavirus infections in the U.S.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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COVID Vaccine Updates: Increased travel spurs fears of virus surge in US

NEW YORK (WABC) — Nationwide, vaccinations are up and cases are dropping, but a third of all states are still seeing an average of at least a 10% increase in new infections.

The TSA said that on last Friday alone, nearly a million and a half travelers passed through US airports.

A state of emergency is in effect in Miami Beach with authorities arresting more than 1,000 people since February 3.

That’s when vacationers started arriving in large numbers. More than half of those arrested are not even from Florida.

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Here are more of today’s headlines:

NJ slows down reopening
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the state will not be doing any more reopenings “for some time” because of the emerging variants. “My guess is we won’t be opening capacity for some time now because of the caseload,” Murphy said on CNN Monday morning. Murphy was asked last week about whether vaccinated people would have to carry around a proof of vaccination, an idea that came under attack by the Republican Governors Association. Murphy said “that’s all politics” and he would defer to CDC recommendations. “Do I think it’s a crazy idea? No,” he said.

Fitness classes to resume in NYC
New York City is taking a big step forward with plans for group fitness classes resuming Monday across the five boroughs. They’re opening their doors for the first time in a year and will operate classes at one third capacity.

NYC high schools students set to return
New York City high school students can return to the classroom for in-person learning Monday. Only those students who were learning in-person late last year can get back to in-person school right now – which is just 20% of the total public high school enrollment.

Pharmacies now vaccinating people with underlying conditions in NYC
New York City officials announced a major expansion in vaccine access in the city. Pharmacies are now vaccinating people with underlying conditions.

NY hospitalizations new low
New York state officials announced hospitalizations dropped to 4,355, the lowest since December 4 and down 53 percent from the post-holiday peak.

82-year-old twins embrace for 1st time in months due to COVID-19 pandemic
A special reunion for a set of twins who were torn apart because of the coronavirus. Jackie Parker and Janet Kennedy were able to hug for the first time in months. The 82-year-olds had to cut off physical contact when Janet’s nursing home in Indiana closed to visitors last year.

Some NY nursing homes proved helpless in face of virus surge
Newly-released records reveal another wave of COVID deaths at nursing homes around New York state. The documents show at least 15 nursing homes had 30 deaths or more during the viral wave that ran from November to February. Seven homes had more than 40 deaths. The deaths occurred long after Governor Andrew Cuomo reversed his policy requiring nursing homes to admit people even if they were infected.

UK approaching 1 year since lockdown
The United Kingdom is approaching the one-year mark of its first coronavirus lockdown. The pandemic forced thousands of restaurants, pubs, and other non-essential businesses to close their doors. British pubs were hit hard — they lost 11-billion dollars in sales. More than 2,000 pubs have closed for good. Shop owners say they will need long-term help to stay afloat.

When did you realize the COVID pandemic changed everything?
Many of us had a moment, most often occurring in March 2020, when we realized that COVID-19 had completely changed our lives forever. Even though we’ve managed to move forward and adapt to a new normal, that memory still sticks with us. Tell us: What was that moment to you?
Top 7 COVID vaccine questions answered
You had questions about COVID-19 vaccines and 7 On Your Side is getting you answers from doctors on the front line of the pandemic.


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