Passengers at Mumbai airport queue to board a plane on May 25, 2020, on the first day of service after India’s Covid-19 lockdown. Photo: AFP / Indranil Mukherjee

The alarming rise in Covid-19 cases in India has forced many countries to impose curbs on allowing Indian travelers on entering their territory. This has prompted a rush to fly out of India as travelers fear more countries may ban flights.

The UK put India on its travel red list from Friday. This means entry to the UK is banned to all but British and Irish nationals, as well as those with residency rights. They will have to isolate themselves in UK government-approved hotels – at their own cost – for 10 days.

This has upset the plans of students who had booked to fly to the UK in May. Many had to advance their flight plans to beat the new travel curbs. They also ended up paying a hefty airfare difference, Times of India reports.

The US had earlier advised its citizens to avoid all travel to India. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a ‘Level 4 (Very High)’ warning and recommended not to travel to India even if travellers are fully vaccinated.

Travel agents claim that airfares to the UK and the US have nearly tripled after India came under the grip of a new Covid-19 wave.

Meanwhile, Canada on Thursday banned passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days. Cargo flights from the two countries will continue, however. Flights from India account for one-fifth of the country’s air traffic.

Canadian health minister Patty Hajdu claimed that among the air travelers who tested positive for the coronavirus on arrival in Canada, half of them were from India. The number of people testing positive on arrival from Pakistan was also reportedly high.

Hong Kong recently banned flights from India for 14 days after over 20 passengers on board a flight originating from New Delhi tested positive for the coronavirus. It has placed India, Pakistan and Philippines under its category of “extremely high-risk Group A”, so as to restrict people who have stayed there from boarding for Hong Kong.

Australia is planning to reduce the number of its citizens able to return from India and other red-zone countries in the near future. According to reports, the restrictions will result in a 30% reduction in direct flights from India to Sydney and chartered flights that land in the Northern Territory.

Last year, Australia had closed its borders to non-citizens and permanent residents to contain the pandemic. Travelers arriving from overseas are required to undergo a two-week hotel quarantine at their own expense in Australia.

Meanwhile, India is battling an uphill Covid-19 battle with new cases topping 300,000 for the second consecutive day. Its total caseload has so far crossed 16 million, with over 186,000 deaths. The country is now contending with mutant strains of the virus that are much more contagious and virulent.