Blanket ban urged on people and products from India

MPs yesterday demanded a radical temporary blanket ban on Indians arriving and transiting through Bahrain International Airport … alongside the importation of all Indian products.

Although they are sympathetic about the plight of the Covid-19 stricken nation they want action despite there being no evidence that the virus can be spread through contact with food or packaging.

The proposal by five MPs has been spearheaded by Parliament first vice-chairman Abdulnabi Salman and approved unanimously during the weekly parliamentary session yesterday.

Only Bahrainis returning home would be exempt from the travel ban. The urgent proposal will now be reviewed by the Cabinet.

“This proposal has come as Covid-19 is seeing an unprecedented surge in the Indian subcontinent, especially India, due to the spread of a new variant,” said Mr Salman.

“There are a lot of deaths, an overrun health sector and massive damage across all others sectors in India, which has seen an international response, including Bahrain’s government providing assistance and help.

“Bahrain and India have strong historic ties that extend back hundreds of years but this situation requires precaution, caution and quick action.

“A new variant is spreading through passengers and goods due to travel from India. The world has stopped flights from there, including the UAE and Kuwait.”

He added that Bahrain had managed to combat the virus through huge medical efforts and spending.

“We don’t want to return to square one. Italy has now returned to normal life and Bahrain will in the upcoming days,” added Mr Salman.

“Flights have never stopped and for that to continue public safety is necessary. This measure would be a two-way protection – for Bahrain and India.”

MP Mamdooh Al Saleh said the situation was both sensitive and dangerous. “We convey our condolences to India for the deaths and our government has offered support,” he said.

“It is not passengers from there but also products and foods that could transmit the disease,” he claimed. “It is a responsibility to protect everyone’s safety in Bahrain and what is happening in India could come here, especially through our airport.”

MP Sayed Falah Hashim said the government was working to combat Covid-19 and its variants, but allowing travellers and imports would put all these efforts in jeopardy.

“If we accept travellers from India then our airport employees are in danger and all others who they mix with at the airport and back where they live and work,” he said. “Slowness implementing this ban will just lead the country towards a disastrous outcome.”

India, home to around 1.3 billion people, has so far reported 17.64 million Covid-19 infections, but experts believe the tally runs significantly higher.

Bahrain has already updated travel protocols. All passengers arriving in Bahrain from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh now have to show a certificate proving results of coronavirus-detecting PCR testing with the QR code, done 48 hours before departure from the three countries.

More than 400,000 Indians, 120,000 Pakistanis and 150,000 Bangladeshis live in Bahrain.




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