The U.S. will restrict travel from India beginning on May 4 amid a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in that country, multiple outlets reported on Friday.
American citizens and humanitarian workers will still be able to travel to and from India, as long as they present a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight. However, the Biden administration will restrict all other travel to India following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The policy was implemented in light of extraordinarily high Covid-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India,” a White House official told CNN on Friday.
India recorded a seven-day average of 357,000 new daily cases as of Thursday, with a seven-day average of 3,000 new daily deaths from COVID-19. Crematoriums in the country are struggling to keep up with the pace of new deaths.
Because of limited genomic-sequencing capabilities in India, it is unclear which variants are driving the country’s surge in cases or to what degree.
BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said on Thursday that he is “confident” that the coronavirus vaccine developed by his company and Pfizer will be effective against the B.1.617 strain, which was first recorded in India.
“We are evaluating [the strain]…and the data will be available in the coming weeks,” Sahin told CNBC. “However…we are confident based on the data we had in the past that we might see a similar fashion of neutralization of this virus. But we will only know it if we have the data in our hands.”