Coronavirus COVID-19 Outbreak: International flights had already been banned for a week.
No domestic flights will operate from Wednesday, the government announced today in a massive step in India’s fight to check the spread of coronavirus.
Airlines have to plan operations so as to land at their destination before 11.59 pm on Tuesday, the government said. Only cargo flights will be allowed.
International flights had already been banned for a week and most of the country’s land borders have been sealed.
Yesterday, trains, metros and inter-state buses were banned to stop the movement of people between states.
The government’s announcement came as the number of coronavirus cases crossed 470 on Monday. There have been nine deaths. Scientists and experts have warned of an explosion of COVID-19 cases in a country like India – the world’s second most populated – if drastic measures are not taken, including a lockdown and ban on public transport.
Yesterday, the centre had countered Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal when he said no flights would be allowed in or out of the capital.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation had put out a clarification saying there would be no change in domestic flight operations.
This morning, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to stop flights to Bengal. In her letter, she said Bengal had stopped buses and trains but flights continued, which was against the quarantine protocol.
30 states have gone on full lockdown, the health ministry said today.
Worldwide, coronavirus has claimed more than 13,000 lives and some 300,000 people are infected. The highly contagious disease spreads from person to person through contact or through respiratory droplets when a patient coughs or sneezes.
Airlines across the world have been forced to cut down on their flights because of the coronavirus pandemic. A recent study by global aviation consultancy body CAPA said most airlines would face bankruptcy if the government does not intervene.