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Italy bans travel from India amid surge in coronavirus variants

Italy bans travel from India amid surge in coronavirus variants
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Italy on Sunday became the latest country to ban travel from India and moved to imposed a ban anyone who had traveled to India within the past two weeks from entering the country.

Reuters reported that Italy's heath minister made the announcement, warning of a so-called "double mutant" strain thought to have developed in the country.

“Our scientists are at work to study the new Indian variant,” he said.

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Italy's decision followed similar moves by countries including the U.K., Canada, New Zealand, Indonesia and others that have leveled travel restrictions of varying strength against India.

The State Department lists India, along with numerous other countries, under a Level 4 advisory of "do not travel" due to the country's ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, but the U.S. has not yet banned travel from the country. Several areas of the India are also listed as inadvisable for travel due to ongoing terrorist activity.

India's hospital system faces complete collapse amid a second wave of COVID-19 cases in the country, which has stressed the country's availability of ICU beds and oxygen supplies. Many have reported an inability to find treatment for themselves or family members with severe infections at hospitals in New Delhi, the country's capital, and surrounding areas.

The country has seen more than 300,000 cases per day over the last several days, shattering previous case records and causing the it to surpass Brazil as the country with the second-most total infections, behind the U.S. More than 15 million cases and 180,000 deaths have been reported in India.

“The country is today fighting a very big battle against COVID-19. The situation had improved for a while, but the second COVID-19 wave has come like a storm,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said last Tuesday during a national address.

“I express my condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones due to COVID-19," he added. "Just like a member of your family, I am with you in this hour of sadness. The battle is long and difficult, but we have to overcome it together with our dedication and courage.”