India has relaxed its stringent health rules regarding traveling overseas for visitors from the country.
Around 25 countries previously barred travel to India due to outbreak of Zika virus transmission and the notifiable disease dengue.
“The ministry of health has decided to remove restrictions imposed for certain vector-borne diseases such as Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya and Malaria,” Dr. J.P. Nadda, India’s health minister, said.
India’s total population has almost 400 million people. Millions of people travel abroad for tourism, business, studies, sports, vacations, medical treatment, and education. In 2014, India crossed over to become the fifth largest tourism destination in the world, with nearly 120 million travelers coming to India. Tourism in the country is on the rise, and the Indian government is looking to expand the sector.
However, travel advisories on travel to India remain in place, for diseases like dengue, according to medical experts. “Travel advisories against India are incorrect, as travel advisories were made up by Western countries without enough evidence,” public health expert Dr. A.K. Sinha said.
India has been battling dengue and chikungunya outbreaks for the past three years, mainly affecting the eastern states. More than 7,500 cases of dengue and more than 3,500 cases of chikungunya have been reported from the eastern states in 2017.
Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Kaushik Basu, the former finance minister of India, said the situation is of serious concern and the government has to take action quickly and address the issue to stop unnecessary deaths. “It is a situation that can get worst in the next three months,” Basu said.
Presidential spokesperson Rashtrapati Bhavan said earlier this year that India is one of the most monitored countries in the world to combat a wide variety of mosquito-borne diseases. The government plans to continue monitoring the situation, according to a presidential spokesperson.