Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi

In an effort to restrict instances of infected travellers spreading coronavirus in India, the government on Monday prohibited airlines from carrying passengers from the European Union, European Free Trade Association member states – Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway and Swiss Confederation – United Kingdom and Turkey.

“Travel advisories have been tightened as a preventive measure,” said health ministry joint secretary Lav Aggarwal.

The blanket ban on passengers from these countries will come into effect from 5.30 pm on Wednesday, 18 March.

An order by India’s aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation said travel of passengers from member countries of these groupings had been prohibited from 18 March 2020.

“No airline shall board a passenger from these nations to India with effect from 1200 GMT (17.30 IST) on 18th March. The airline shall enforce this at the port of initial departure,” the order said.

Passengers from four other countries – UAE, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait – will be quarantined for 14 days irrespective of their medical condition.

The government has already mandated a 14-day quarantine for all passengers from China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany.

Monday’s fresh restrictions come against the backdrop of four new coronavirus cases – one each from Odisha, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh and Kerala – had been confirmed, taking the total number of cases to 114 on Monday. This number includes 10 discharged, three cured and two reported deaths.

After the Group of Ministers meeting, the government has also proposed social distancing measures to be in force till March 31, the ministry official told reporters. The ‘contact tracing activity’ of these positive cases has led to identification of more than 5,200 contacts, who are kept under surveillance, they added.

The fresh restrictions come against the backdrop of instances where people entering the country brought the infection. One more such case came to light on Monday when a researcher who recently returned from Italy tested positive for the coronavirus.

The 33-year-old patient who reached Delhi from Italy on March 6 and travelled to Bhubaneswar by train on March 12 is being treated at the Capital Hospital in the Odisha capital Bhubaneswar.