The U.S. State Department lowered its India travel advisory to the second-lowest level as the virus situation there eases following one of the world’s most lethal resurgences.
The shift to advising Americans to “exercise increased caution” when visiting India came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the South Asian nation now has a “moderate level of Covid-19.”
India was ravaged by the delta variant earlier this year, but reported cases have declined sharply since May, from hundreds of thousands a day to around 30,000. The U.S. has been adjusting its travel advisories to account for virus hotspots around the world, and the CDC raised its warning on travel to Turkey on Monday to a “very high” level of Covid.
Travelers should make sure they’re fully vaccinated before visiting India, the CDC said, and it recommends wearing a mask and maintaining distance from others while there.
The May wave saw India become a new Covid epicenter, with a swift surge in cases overwhelming under-prepared hospitals and leading to shortages of oxygen and vital drugs. It became emblematic of the crises facing poorer countries as they struggle to secure vaccine supplies amid demand from developed economies and are assailed by new variants. More than 4,000 people a day were dying in India at the height of the resurgence.
Countries from the U.K. to Australia restricted entry of travelers from India, and parts of the world still remain off limits. Tuesday’s shift in the U.S. doesn’t apply to travelers from India.
While cases have been tailing off, scientists expect India to see another virus wave before the end of the year, amid a slow vaccination rollout and difficulties in containing infections.
The next surge could peak in October, though the wave is likely to be smaller than that seen in May, with cases peaking at around 100,000 to 150,000 a day, according to estimates by researchers led by Mathukumalli Vidyasagar and Manindra Agrawal at Indian Institute of Technology in Hyderabad and Kanpur respectively.