The Biden administration said on Friday that it would begin restricting travel to the United States from India, where a devastating coronavirus outbreak is claiming over 3,000 lives each day.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said in a statement that the move was done on the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that it would go into effect on Tuesday.
“The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high Covid-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India,” she said.
Doctors and news reports have cited anecdotal — but inconclusive — evidence to suggest that a homegrown variant called B.1.617 is driving the country’s outbreak. But researchers say that data so far suggests that another variant that has spread widely in Britain and the U.S., B.1.1.7., may also be a significant factor.
One in five tests are coming back positive in India, but experts fear the true toll is much higher.
As the U.S. Air Force delivered the first shipments of oxygen cylinders, test kits, masks and other emergency supplies promised to India by the Biden administration, several Indian states said they could not fulfill the government’s directive to expand vaccinations to all adults beginning on Saturday because they lacked doses. Only a small fraction of the country has been vaccinated so far.
As hospitals face shortages of intensive-care beds, relatives of the sick are broadcasting desperate pleas on social media for oxygen, medicine and other scarce supplies. Many Indians say they do not know if they are infected with the coronavirus because overwhelmed labs have stopped processing tests.
India Coronavirus Map and Case Count
A detailed map shows the extent of the coronavirus outbreak, with charts and tables of the number of cases and deaths.
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