S Jaishankar said that Indian nationals are strongly advised to avoid non- essential travel abroad (File)
The government today informed Lok Sabha that India has not imposed a total ban on the entry of foreign nationals as part of efforts to check the spread of coronavirus.
Responding to a series of questions by members in Lok Sabha following his statement on COVID-19, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar clarified that "India has not imposed a ban."
"India has said that if people from certain countries who are coming here, they have to go through quarantine – in certain cases compulsory quarantine and in some cases discretionary quarantine — and Indian citizens who are coming back will obviously come back to quarantine conditions if that is required," he said.
He was responding to a remark by NK Premchandran of the RSP that "the only country which is imposing a total ban is India."
According to the Union Health Ministry, the number of coronavirus patients in the country has risen to 74 with 13 fresh cases, including one foreign national.
Earlier, in his statement, the External Affairs Minister said that in view of the further spread of coronavirus, the government had on Wednesday decided to take "more stringent" measures regarding international travel.
"The reason for this is obvious – all the cases so far have come directly from those who have a travel history. In doing so, we are clear that we will do whatever must be done to ensure that the spread of coronavirus is restricted and the health security of India ensured," he said.
He said the measures approved by the Group of Ministers on Wednesday include suspension till April 15 of all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International Organizations, employment, project visas. Visa-free travel facility granted to OCI card holders has also been kept in abeyance till 15 April.
"All incoming travellers, including Indian nationals, arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after February 15, 2020 shall be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days," he said.
It was also decided that any foreign national who intends to travel to India for compelling reason will have to contact the nearest Indian mission.
"Indian nationals are strongly advised to avoid all non- essential travel abroad. On their return, they can be subjected to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days," he said.
He also said that international traffic through land borders will be restricted to the designated check posts with robust screening facilities. These will be notified separately by the Union Home Ministry.