Canada and Kuwait have passenger flights coming from India due to the worsening COVID-19 situation in the country.
On Friday, the Canadian government banned all passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days, the longest country-specific travel ban imposed by Canada.
Kuwait on Saturday suspended all direct commercial flights coming from India until further notice due to the worsening COVID-19 situation in the country.
Canadaâ€™s ban took effect from midnight Thursday, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said on Thursday.
A number of countries like the UK, Australia and Singapore and UAE have banned travel to and from India due to a surge in coronavirus infections.
Canadian transport Minister Alghabra said the government imposed a 30-day ban based on advice from federal health officials in order to buy time to assess more data, and to provide certainty for Canadians considering travelling to the region, the Toronto Star reported.
However, the cargo flights are not banned and Ottawa is still hoping that India, which has suspended vaccine exports, will send the bulk of 1.5 million AstraZeneca doses Canada had purchased through the Serum Institute of India.
Those doses about 1 million are now in limbo, at least until June due to export controls in India, officials admitted Thursday.
The moves come after the Liberal government came under fire from the Conservative opposition, the premiers of Canada's two largest provinces, and even their own MPs to tighten border restrictions as COVID-19 variants continue to spread in Canada.
The government said it had taken advice from chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam, who just a day before had said country-specific targeted measures can only go so far, and no border measures are completely 100 percent effective. Tam said layers of protection are needed, especially given most cases here arise from community transmission, not travellers.
In recent weeks, 50 percent of travellers arriving in Canada who tested positive for COVID-19 came from India, even though those flights were only 20 percent of all international arrivals. And an alarming number of positive cases also showed up in travellers from Pakistan.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said those COVID-19-positive travellers were identified and required to quarantine.
But it is a significant volume. And given the epidemiological situation in India, it makes sense to pause travel from that region while our scientists and researchers have an ability to better understand...where the trajectory of the cases in that region is going.
On Thursday, Canada's deputy chief medical officer of health, Dr. Howard Njoo, referred to the situation in India as a raging epidemic.
At the same time, he said, from a public health perspective it's almost impossible to stop viruses from spreading because borders are artificial.
The variant detected in India has now been detected in Quebec, B.C. and Alberta.
According to federal data, 121 international flights between April 7 and April 18 had at least one passenger with COVID-19. That number included 32 from India, where a COVID-19 variant B.1.617 has brought the country's health-care systems to the point of collapse, the report said.
Kuwaitâ€™s ban came after instructions from the nationâ€™s health authorities.
The countryâ€™s directorate general of civil aviation said that it had suspended all direct commercial flights coming from India, effective April 24.
All passengers arriving from India either directly or via another country will be banned from entering unless they have spent at least 14 days out of India, it said in a statement on Twitter.
Kuwaiti citizens, their first degree relatives and their domestic workers will be allowed to enter the country.
Operations of freight flights will continue, it said.
Over one million Indian community members live in Kuwait, the largest expatriate community in the country, according to the Indian Embassy in Kuwait.
A record single-day rise of 3,46,786 coronavirus cases pushed India's tally of infection to 1,66,10,481, while active cases crossed the 25-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the UAE on Friday updated its travel ban for India, saying that all incoming flights on national and foreign carriers from the country will be suspended, while transportation of passengers from the Gulf country to India will be allowed.
The UAE on Thursday banned travel from India for 10 days from Sunday due to the worsening COVID-19 situation in the country.