NEW DELHI :
India on Sunday suspended travel and registration of pilgrims applying for permits to visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan from the midnight of 16 March till further notice as part of steps taken to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. This comes against the backdrop of 110 Covid-19 positive cases and two deaths being reported in the country.
“In wake of the #Covid19India outbreak, as a precautionary measure to contain and control the spread of the disease, the travel and registration for #SriKartarpurSahib is temporarily suspended from 12 am 16 March, 2020, till further orders," the home ministry said in a Twitter post.
The Kartarpur Corridor is a visa-free border crossing and secure corridor, connecting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, also called Kartarpur Sahib, in Pakistan to the Indian border in Punjab. It was opened in November last year to allow pilgrims to visit the gurdwara on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism.
The Indian government also announced the closure of 18 of 37 border crossing points with Nepal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar from Sunday midnight, suspending passenger movements through all immigration land check posts at these borders. India and Pakistan have one land crossing at Attari-Wagah, besides the Kartarpur crossing.
The move was aimed at channelling movement through check points with adequate facilities to detect incidence of Covid-19, Indian officials said at a briefing on measures to tackle the outbreak of the disease in New Delhi.
However, visa-free entry for nationals of Bhutan and Bangladesh will continue, officials said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has addressed a meeting of South Asian leaders on Sunday in a bid to come up with a common strategy to combat the spread of the virus, which has so far infected more than 150, 000 people in more than 140 countries across the world, according to a tally by news agency AFP.
“Timely action for a healthier planet. Tomorrow at 5 PM, leaders of Saarc nations will discuss, via conferencing, a roadmap to fight the challenge of Covid-19 novel coronavirus. I am confident that our coming together will lead to effective outcomes and benefit our citizens," Modi said in a Twitter post on Saturday.