Kuwait City: Kuwait and Iran restricted Indian flights and passengers until further notice, the South Asian giant recorded the highest number of Covid deaths every day, and some hospitals ran out of oxygen.
The region’s busiest international air hub, the United Arab Emirates, had already announced on Thursday that it would suspend flights to and from India from Sunday.
“In view of the health situation, it has been decided to suspend direct commercial air links with India until further notice,” the Kuwaiti government tweeted late Friday.
It said Kuwait residents would only be allowed to return to the emirate via third countries if they stopped over for at least 14 days.
Expatriate workers make up some 70 percent of Kuwait’s population and include hundreds of thousands of Indians.
The Iranian authorities said on Saturday that they were suspending air arrivals from India and Pakistan.
“Flights to and from the two countries of India and Pakistan will be banned” from midnight, aviation authority spokesman Mohammad Hassan Zibakhsh said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.
“There are no scheduled flights between Iran and India. Nevertheless, accepting connecting passengers from the noted countries will be banned.”
Over time, fares for the closure of the air corridor between India and the UAE (one of the busiest highways in the world) soared as Indians who could afford it scrambled to escape the Covid surge.
The price comparison website shows that a one-way commercial flight from Mumbai to Dubai on Friday and Saturday costs up to 80,000 rupees ($1,000), which is about 10 times the usual price.
Since the 10-day flight suspension took effect, no more tickets will be offered on Sunday.
There are approximately 3.3 million Indians in the UAE, accounting for one-third of the Indian population-most of them in Dubai.
Outside the Gulf, Canada has suspended flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days, while the U.S. State Department urges Americans to avoid Indian vaccinations even if they have been vaccinated.
Concern has focussed on one new strain of the virus in particular that has spread rapidly in India and has already been detected in Europe.
Iran said later that it was also suspending flights and passengers from India over the health crisis.