A healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) takes a swab from a man to test him for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in a street in Ahmedabad, India, July 7, 2020. (REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files)
Meanwhile, an MHA spokesperson added: “Other foreigners from these countries have also been allowed to avail Indian visa facility for business, medical and employment purposes. Indian citizens have also been allowed to travel to such countries on any type of visa.”
The move comes even as India crossed the grim milestone of two million cases after a record daily jump of over 62,000 cases was reported on Friday. As the government struggles to contain the spread, more than 3.5 million ASHA health workers, who have been the foot-soldiers in the Covid-19 detection efforts across India, embarked on a two-day strike from Friday to secure better wages and proper protective equipment.
With infections spreading further to smaller towns and rural areas, experts say the epidemic in India is likely to be months away from hitting its peak. India is the third nation to pass the unwanted milestone of two million Covid-19 cases, lagging behind only the United States and Brazil.
India has been posting an average of around 50,000 new cases a day since mid-June, but experts say its testing rate at 16,035 per million people is far too low.
Meanwhile, Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, has set a ceiling price of $3 per dose for the proposed Covid-19 vaccine for India and low-and middle-income countries.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide an at-risk funding of $150 million to Gavi (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation), which will be used to support Serum to manufacture potential vaccine candidates, including the ones from UK firm AstraZeneca, and US biotech company Novavax.
Significantly, the ceiling price is only for vaccines proposed to be distributed to 92 countries under the Covax alliance — co-led by Gavi, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and World Health Organization (WHO), formed to accelerate development of Covid-19 vaccines and ensure their rapid and equitable access.