The US Is Banning Most Travel From India Because of Its COVID Nightmare

India’s crematoriums are overflowing with bodies, and oxygen is scarce.
April 30, 2021, 6:34pm
President Joe Biden waves at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., as he boards Air Force One to return to Washington, Thursday, April 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.

The Biden administration will restrict travel from India to the United States on advice from the Centers for Disease Control because of the devastating coronavirus outbreak in the country. 

The restrictions begin on May 4 but do not apply to U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Advertisement

The White House press secretary said in a statement that the measure was being taken “in light of extraordinarily high COVID-19 caseloads and multiple variants” in the country. India hit a global record on Friday of 386,452 COVID cases reported, according to Reuters. And cases from the last nine days have been above 300,000. 

Ashu Rai, a cremator in the capital city of New Delhi, told VICE News that the country’s largest crematorium is running out of space for bodies. The city has had to start building makeshift funeral pyres that burn through the night. 

“I used to cremate three to five bodies every day before the pandemic, but after this second wave, I am cremating more than 15 bodies a day alone.”

It’s also become nearly impossible to get a hospital bed in India, and oxygen for COVID patients is running in short supply. People are apparently searching online for instructions on how to make oxygen at home, which experts warn is extremely dangerous.

India joins other countries, like Brazil, China, and Iran, that the United States has previously announced travel restrictions for.