WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The United States is closing off non-essential travel from India Tuesday in a bid to avoid a spike in COVID-19 infections at home as India deals with an unprecedented outbreak.
The ban, according to the White House, broadly applies to non-U.S. citizens who’ve spent the last 14 days in India before traveling to the U.S.
But there are exceptions. U.S. citizens and lawful residents, as well as their families, can still return home. The U.S. can also invite medical experts from India to coordinate a pandemic response. There are also broad exceptions for law enforcement operations and other national interests.
This comes as India routinely breaks its own global record for daily cases by a single country. They recently crossed the 20 million case mark, putting them in second place for total cases during the pandemic to the U.S.
The country’s cases jumped more than 60% from April 4 to May 3. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a new variant first discovered in India, plus variants first discovered in the United Kingdom and South Africa, are fueling the surge.
“The variant strains circulating in India all have characteristics of concern, which may make them more easily transmitted and have the potential for reduced protection afforded by some vaccines,” the CDC wrote.
India is trying to ramp up vaccinations, but the nation contains around 17% of the world’s total population. The country reports 9.5% of its 1.35 billion people have gotten at least one shot.