Sri Lanka on Thursday became the last of India’s neighbors to seal its borders with the South Asian giant as it battles a record coronavirus outbreak.
Bangladesh and Nepal have also banned flights and sought to close their borders with India, where a huge increase in numbers over the past three weeks has left more than 230,000 dead and more than 21 million cases.
The three countries are battling their own pandemic outbreaks, which Red Cross leaders have called a “human catastrophe.”
The Sri Lankan government has banned the entry of air passengers from India, the country reporting its highest daily death toll of 14 deaths and 1,939 infections in 24 hours.
The Sri Lankan navy said it had stepped up its patrols to ward off Indian trawlers, adding that on Tuesday it had arrested 11 of those vessels that had crossed the narrow strip of sea separating the two neighbors.
Bangladesh halted all international flights on April 14 due to its own push and closed its border with India on April 26.
It has reported 11,755 Covid-19 deaths and 767,338 cases, but experts say the real numbers are higher in all countries in South Asia.
Bangladesh has received 10 million doses of vaccine from India, but the supply has been cut off and the government is negotiating for Chinese vaccines.
Nepal suspended international flights a week ago, until May 14.
Only two return flights per week are allowed to India, to bring stranded nationals back. Most border crossings are also closed and only returning Nepalese can use those that are still open.
Many hospitals in Nepal are teeming with Covid-19 patients, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
“Southern towns near the Indian border are unable to cope with the growing number of people requiring medical treatment,” he said. “Nepal has 57 times more cases than this time last month. “
Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan are all experiencing record Covid-19 death rates, he added.
“We must act now and we must act quickly to have any hope of containing this human catastrophe,” said International Federation director for the Asia-Pacific region, Alexander Matheou.
“This virus has no respect for borders and these variants are rampant across Asia. “
Even the luxury tourist destination of the Maldives has tightened restrictions on Indian visitors, insisting on negative test results upon entry.
India is the biggest tourist market for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, both of which are facing huge losses due to the rapidly spreading new Covid-19 wave.
Sri Lanka has reported 117,529 infections and 734 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The Maldives has reported 32,665 cases and 74 deaths.
© 2021 AFP