The US will restrict travel from India starting on May 4, the White House said Friday, citing a devastating rise in COVID-19 cases in the country and the emergence of potentially dangerous variants of the coronavirus. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden's administration made the determination on the advice of the CDC, per the AP. With 386,452 new cases, India now has reported more than 18.7 million since the pandemic began, second only to the United States. India's Health Ministry on Friday also reported 3,498 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 208,330. Experts believe both figures are an undercount, but it’s unclear by how much.
The US action comes days after Biden spoke with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the health crisis in his country and pledged to send assistance. The US has already moved to send therapeutics, rapid virus tests, and oxygen to India, along with materials needed for that country to boost its domestic production of vaccines. Additionally, a CDC team of public health experts was expected to soon be on the ground in India to help health officials there move to slow the spread of the virus. The US already requires negative tests and quarantines for all international travelers. (The surge in cases in India gives more opportunity for dangerous variants to evolve.)