As India reports growing numbers of COVID-19 deaths every day, the US and other nations are sending critical supplies while cutting off travel links. But Washington has just taken its first steps toward an evacuation as it warns all Americans still in India that it's time to get out of Dodge.
Bloomberg reports that the US has - via the State Department and local consulates - warned any Americans in the country to start making arrangements to leave as soon as possible, while also advising anybody with travel plans "not to travel to India or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so."
There are still 14 direct daily flights between India and the US, and others that connect through Europe, according to the State Department
#India: Access to medical care is severely limited due to COVID-19 cases. U.S. citizens wishing to depart should use available commercial options now. Daily direct flights to the US and flights via Paris and Frankfurt are available. https://t.co/p5a3v5ws9y pic.twitter.com/LqHhCiZVEg— Travel - State Dept (@TravelGov) April 28, 2021
It's particularly urgent for Americans to leave since shortages of beds and oxygen at Indian hospitals have led to sick Americans being turned away, according to the State Department. "US citizens are reporting being denied admittance to hospitals in some cities due to a lack of space," the website of the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India warned in a health alert. "US citizens who wish to depart India should take advantage of available commercial transportation options now." All routine US citizen services and visa services at the US Consulate General Chennai have been canceled.
But before they can return to the US, anybody traveling from abroad - whether they're citizens, or not - must have a COVID-19 test done between three and five days before travel. Those who ahven't been vaccinated should also stay at home and self-quarantine for a week, the embassy urged. Which is why individuals should start working on plans to leave now.
The latest numbers out of India continued to set new records for most cases reported in a single day anywhere in the world. Indian authorities confirmed 379,257 cases over the past 24 hours, while another 3,645 infected patients died, pushing India's death toll further past 200K to 204,800.
Source: Johns Hopkins
As President Biden dithers about whether to support a WTO motion from India and South Africa asking for a waiver for vaccine IP so developing nations can start producing their own jabs instead of relying upon (and enriching) American pharma giants, corporations like Amazon have been chipping in with aid, with the Bezos-controlled tech giant airlifting 100 ICU ventilators. Private Equity giant Blackstone has reportedly committed $5 million to India relief.
Meanwhile, the scenes at hospitals, crematoriums and neighbors around the country have been described as "like a mass killing" by one activist fighting India's devastating second wave. According to NBC News, creamtoriums have had to forgo the rituals that Hindus believe release the soul from the body during the cycle of rebirth. And it's not just crematoriums, Muslim burial yards in New Delhi are running out of space.