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Changing rules of visa and immigration during the times of coronavirus

The entire world is talking about coronavirus. It’s a menace that’s creating havoc not only in China but terrorising the entire world. Travel restrictions are on, new rules are coming up and a sense of fear seems to be spreading the world over. Such a scenario is truly traumatic for individuals who had been planning to relocate to a different country for work, education or personal reasons. Quite surprisingly things have changed dramatically over a period of couple of months now.

As an international move and packer company with extensive experience, we advise you not to get panicked. Things are truly grave, but it helps to be aware and take preventive measures so that you can relocate to your desired destination and not be afflicted in any which way.

To begin with, what is this deadly virus?

Coronaviruses (CoV) originate from a large family of viruses that have been known to cause illnesses ranging from common cold to some very severe diseases like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). This new coronavirus (nCoV) is a novel strain that has not been identified previously in humans. 

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, which means that they can be transmitted between people and animals.  Research has shown that SARS-CoV had been transmitted from civet cats to humans. It has also been seen that several known coronaviruses that have been circulating in animals haven’t yet infected humans.

China and several other countries have executed restrictions on entry and exit of people, visa and work permit issuance, tightened quarantine rules, closed ports, and taken various other measures to bring down the spread of this contagious virus. And, these restrictions are certainly affecting global business travel along with international assignment plans.

How did the outbreak begin?

It is believed that the source of the coronavirus is a ‘wet market’ in Wuhan in China that sold animals, fish and birds that are both dead and living.

Markets like these pose a heightened risk of such deadly viruses contaminating humans from such animals because it’s difficult to maintain hygiene standards if live animals are kept in such proximity with humans after being butchered on site.

However, the exact animal source hasn’t been identified yet, but the original host is mostly thought to be bats. But even then, bats weren’t sold at the Wuhan market. It can happen that they may have infected live chickens or any other animals that are usually sold in that market.

What are the symptoms?

The virus can lead to pneumonia. Those who have fallen ill have mostly reported to suffer from:

  • Coughs
  • Fever
  • Breathing difficulties

In severe cases there can be organ failure. As this is viral pneumonia, so antibiotics mostly are of no use. The antiviral drugs we have against flu mostly don’t work. Recovery usually depends on the strength of the immune system. Therefore, many of those who have died had already been in poor health.

What steps to take to take in this scenario?

  • Wash Hands Always: After you enter office or home or someone’s house, use soap and wash your hands thoroughly. Don’t forget to use a sanitizer after that.
  • Cover your mouth: When you have a cold, cover your mouth always as you cough or sneeze.
  • Face Mask: Face masks are a must when you are travelling. You must compulsorily wear them during international travels.
  • Take medical help even for common cold: If you are suffering from common cold, fever or coughing, consult a medical practitioner without any delay.
  • Avoid visiting certain countries: If possible, delay or cancel your relocation or visit to a few of the countries of the world like China, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Iran and Italy for certain months.
  • Practice quarantine measures: In case you have relocated back from countries like China, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Iran and Italy, be indoors and avoid human company for two weeks at least.

The immigration scene worldwide is undergoing upheavals as coronavirus creates havoc.

  • Both E-Visas as well as the regular ones that have been issued on or before 5 February 2020 to mainland Chinese nationals are suspended. Holders of these visas may not enter India by any route.
  • E-Visas and the regular ones that have been issued on or before 1 February 2020 to nationals from foreign countries, who have travelled to mainland China, Italy, Iran, South Korea or Japan now stand suspended. Nationals from these countries will not gain entry to India by any route whatsoever.
  • However, diplomats, OCI Card holders, officials of international bodies and aircrew are exempted from these restrictions but will have to undergo medical screening without fail.
  • Passengers who would be arriving into India even indirectly from countries like China, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Macau, Iran, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand or Singapore need to undergo medical screening at the entry point.
  • The Australian government has forbidden all travellers to enter the country, regardless of their nationality, arriving from anywhere in China. And that includes people who may have departed or transited in China since 1 February. Exceptions apply only to the permanent residents of Australia and their immediate family members.
  • In China, from 23rd January itself, the government of Wuhan in Hubei has suspended all public transport and also cancelled every rail and air departures from the city. Hundreds of flights to and from Wuhan have been cancelled. Since then, the travel ban has been extended to many other cities in Hubei province.
  • Looking at the current situation, the immigration authorities in Beijing, have asked all foreign nationals as well as Chinese citizens to hold off submissions of their visa/stay/residence permit applications in person if it isn’t urgent.

Already the world is reeling from the impact of coronavirus, which seems to be lurking around the world. Writer Relocations, as an international relocation company, has been assisting people over the years to move countries. From our experience we can sense the urgency of the current scenario and hope our discretion will help us to beat this disease and get over the menace soon.  

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