Kuwait follows UAE in suspending India flights over COVID-19

April 25, 2021
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Licensed vocational nurse Denise Saldan prepares the single-dose Johnson & Johnson Janssen Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccine rollout targetting immingrants and the undocumented in Los Angeles, California on March 25, 2021. The US is calling for a pause on April 13, 2021 on administering the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine due to blood clotting concerns.
Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

Kuwait has suspended all flights from India until further notice after the south Asian giant recorded its highest daily COVID-19 death toll and some hospitals ran out of oxygen.

The region’s busiest international air hub, the United Arab Emirates, had already announced on Thursday that it would suspend flights to and from India from Sunday.

“In view of the health situation, it has been decided to suspend direct commercial air links with India until further notice,” the Kuwaiti government tweeted late Friday.

It said Kuwait residents would only be allowed to return to the emirate via third countries if they stopped over for at least 14 days.

Expatriate workers make up some 70 percent of Kuwait’s population and include hundreds of thousands of Indians.

As the clock ticked down to the shutdown of the air corridor between India and the UAE — one of the world’s busiest — fares soared as Indians who could afford it scrambled to escape the Covid surge.

Price comparison websites showed one-way commercial flights from Mumbai to Dubai on Friday and Saturday costing as much as 80,000 rupees ($1,000) — around 10 times the usual rate.

No tickets were on offer from Sunday when the 10-day flight suspension comes into force.

The UAE is home to roughly 3.3 million Indians who make up a third of the population — most of them in Dubai.

Beyond the Gulf, Canada suspended flights from both India and Pakistan for 30 days, while the US State Department urged Americans to avoid travel to India, even if they are vaccinated.

Concern has focussed on one new strain of the virus in particular that has spread rapidly in India and has already been detected in Europe.

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