India to ground domestic passenger flights because of virus
A medic puts a 'home quarantine' stamp on a passenger's hand after thermal screening as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus at Guwahati Railway Station in Guwahati, India. AFP
India will ground all domestic passenger flights from Wednesday to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, the government said, as more states ordered lockdowns.
India has already banned incoming international flights and sealed most of its land borders. The government information bureau said only cargo flights will be allowed.
Domestic Indian carriers carried some 144 million passengers last year. "Covid-19 pandemic is crippling the global economy and aviation including India's once-booming aviation sector for years to come," Devesh Agarwal, the editor of the Bangalore Aviation website, told AFP.
"This is not a short-term pandemic and the outlook for Indian aviation looks tragic. The aviation sector in India is decimated right now. This is similar worldwide."
International traffic to the financial capital Mumbai had also fallen more than 55 percent in the month of March amid the increasing flight restrictions," a Mumbai Airport spokeswoman told AFP. India has reported seven virus deaths from more than 400 cases, but infections have risen sharply in recent days. Hundreds of millions of Indians were ordered locked down Sunday in the world's second-most populous nation.