The Success Story of Kerala

Kerala was the first state in India to report a coronavirus case in late January, the number of new cases in the first week of May dropped 30 percent from the previous week. With just three deaths, 96 percent of positive patients have recovered in the state, higher than elsewhere in India, elsewhere in the whole world.

The success in Kerala could prove instructive for the Indian government, which has largely shut down the country to stop the spread of the contagion but continues to see the curve trend upward, with more than 63,000 confirmed cases and more than 2,100 deaths (as on 10/5/20). Its challenges are plenty — from high population density to poor health care facilities — but experts say Kerala’s proactive measures like early detection and broad social support measures could serve as a model for the rest of the country.

In Kerala more than 30,000 health workers are working extended hours to contain the spread of corona virus, known as COVID-19 with the help of local, district and state administration. Other efforts include aggressive testing, intense contact tracing, instituting a longer quarantine, building thousands of shelters for migrant workers stranded by the sudden nationwide shutdown and distributing millions of cooked meals to those in need. The measures appear to be paying off.

Kerala’s approach was effective because it was strict and humane. The active and strong leadership of Chief Minister Sri.Pinarayi Vijayan helped the state to win the fight against the pandemic. He announced complete lock down of the state even one day before the Central Government announced it across India. And he also make sure that, the people of his state get adequate supply of materials for their needs. From April 20 onwaqrds half of the districts are back to normal and on april 24 another 3 more districts. The lock down conytinues till May 3 in rest of the 4 districts.

Henk Bekedam, the World Health Organization’s representative in India, attributed Kerala’s “prompt response” to its past “experience and investment” in emergency preparedness and pointed to measures such as district monitoring, risk communication and community engagement.

The state faced a potentially disastrous challenge: a disproportionately high number of foreign arrivals. Popular for its tranquil backwaters and health retreats, the coastal state receives more than 1 million foreign tourists a year. One-sixth of its 33 million citizens are expatriates, and hundreds of its students study in China.

Screening at airports was tightened, and travelers from nine countries — including coronavirus hotspots such as Iran and South Korea — were required to quarantine at home starting on Feb. 10, two weeks before India put similar restrictions into place. In one instance, more than a dozen foreign nationals were removed from a flight before takeoff because they had not completed their isolation period. Temporary quarantine shelters were established to accommodate tourists and other nonresidents.

The state took the lead in deploying rapid testing kits, which officials say they continue to use in hotspots to check community spread. This week, Kerala began walk-in testing facilities, which reduce the need for protective gears for health workers. Smt. K.K. Shailaja, the health minister, said six states had reached out to Kerala for advice. But it may not be easy to replicate Kerala’s lessons elsewhere in India.

The state has invested heavily in public education and universal health care. Kerala has the highest literacy rate and benefits from the best-performing public health system in the country. It tops India’s rankings on neonatal mortality, birth immunizations and the availability of specialists at primary care facilities. No wonder country's top 12 primary health centers are from Kerala.

Kerala is also set to become the first state in the country to begin convalescent plasma therapy – the use of antibodies from the blood of cured patients to treat those critically ill from COVID-19 on trial. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has given its nod to the state government for the project, initiated by the prestigious Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST).

Kerala also announced an economic package worth $2.6 billion to fight the pandemic days before the central government instituted a harsh lockdown that left many states scrambling. It delivered uncooked lunches to schoolchildren, liaised with service providers to increase network capacity for Internet at homes and promised two months of advance pension.

On this occasion let us salute the State government, officials, health workers, police department who collectively and successfully worked for our safety.

Hospitality for Hope

Across the United States, the hospitality industry is stepping up to do its part in the COVID-19 pandemic. Through several initiatives, hotels and resorts are offering more than 33 lakhs hotel rooms to healthcare workers in country’s time of need.

More than 15,000 hotels have signed up for a new initiative called “Hospitality for Hope,” which matches emergency and healthcare workers with hotel properties that have offered to provide temporary housing as the COVID-19 public health crisis grows. Organized by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), the program will primarily focus on housing for the healthcare community but some hotels could potentially be used as “Alternative Care Sites” such as an emergency hospital or place for those quarantined to stay if needed.

“As an industry of people taking care of people, the hotel industry is uniquely positioned to support our communities by caring for the first responders who are on the frontlines of this public health crisis,” said Chip Rogers, President and CEO of the AHLA.

“In the short time since the initiative was announced, participation has grown from nearly 6,000 hotels to more than 15,000 properties,” said Rogers. “Already, this initiative has identified a total combined 23 lakhs rooms located in close proximity to established healthcare facilities.”

To streamline the process, the AHLA is working to create a national “Hospitality for Hope” database to assist the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, local emergency management and public health agencies.

In addition, Hilton and American Express have teamed up to donate up to 10 lakh hotel room nights across the United States to frontline medical professionals leading the fight against COVID-19. Beginning next week, Hilton and American Express will make rooms available without charge to doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics and other frontline medical staff who need a place to sleep, recharge or isolate from their families through the end of May.

Hilton is initially working with 10 associations who collectively represent more than 10 lakhs healthcare workers to provide access to the program, designed to support individuals who would otherwise have to spend their own money on accommodations.

“During this crisis, we have seen so many examples of medical professionals working in the most challenging circumstances, sacrificing their own needs for the greater good. They truly are heroes,” said Hilton President and CEO, Christopher J. Nassetta. “We are honored to extend our Hilton hospitality to them during this difficult time.”

For foreign travelers stranded anywhere in India

The world is facing an unprecedented situation today. The Ministry of Tourism is with you in these difficult times. We are truly committed towards the safety of one and all. If you are a foreign traveler stranded anywhere in India due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can help you get in touch with the concerned authorities.

COVID-19 Helpline Number: +91-11-23978046 or 1075
Whatsapp Number (Government of India's- COVID-19 helpdesk): +91 9013151515
Helpline Email ID:
Or Tourist Helpline: 1800 11 1363 or 1363

In addition to the above helplines, the following offices are available to provide assistance for the respective geographical areas:

Andaman and Nicobar Islands State Helpline: 03192-232102
Andhra Pradesh State Helpline: 0866-2410978
Arunachal Pradesh State Helpline: 9436055743
Assam State Helpline: 6913347770
Bihar State Helpline: 104
Chandigarh State Helpline: 104
Chhattisgarh State Helpline: 03192-232102
Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu State Helpline: 104
Delhi State Helpline: 011-22307145
Goa State Helpline: 104
Gujarat State Helpline: 104
Haryana State Helpline: 8558893911
Himachal Pradesh State Helpline: 104
Jammu & Kashmir State Helpline: 0191-2520982, 0194-2440283
Jharkhand State Helpline: 104
Karnataka State Helpline: 104
Kerala State Helpline: 0471-2552056
Ladakh State Helpline: 0198-2256462
Lakshadweep State Helpline: 104
Madhya Pradesh State Helpline: 104
Maharashtra State Helpline: 020-26127394
Manipur State Helpline: 0385-2411668
Meghalaya State Helpline: 108
Mizoram State Helpline: 102
Nagaland State Helpline: 7005539653
Odisha State Helpline: 9439994859
Puducherry State Helpline: 104
Punjab State Helpline: 104
Rajasthan Helpline: 0141-2225624
Sikkim State Helpline: 104
Tamil Nadu State Helpline: 044-29510500
Telangana State Helpline: 104
Tripura State Helpline: 0381-2315879
Uttarakhand State Helpline: 104
Uttar Pradesh State Helpline: 1800-180-5145
West Bengal State Helpline: 1800-3134-44222, 033-23412600

The Ministry of External Affairs has established a 24X7 helpline for coordination on COVID-19. For any information, please contact the following:

Control Room: 1800118797 (toll free), +91-11-23012113, +91-11-23014104, and +91-11-23017905
Fax number - +91-11-23018158
email :

In addition to the above helplines, the following officers are available to provide assistance for the respective geographical areas:
  • MEA Covid-19 Control Center
  • Dear Travelers

    In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, our offices at LA & NY in US, Leeds & London in UK, Paris in France, Leige in EU, Bonaventure in Canada and Goa in India have been shut down until further notice.

    We are extremely grateful to all of our travelers who have continued to support us for as long as they can, and to supporting staff across the world who have worked so hard in recent weeks to ensure the safety and enjoyment of travelers. "Closing offices is not a decision that is taken lightly, and we know that this will have a severe impact on many of the individuals working in our industry. In these uncertain times, Bonjour remain committed to helping provide vital support for those in need, and hope we are able to welcome travelers back to our tours before too long."

    During this time contact us only for high priority requirements
    Call (NY): (+1) 917.994.8055
    or email at

    On behalf of the entire Bonjour family, I want to reiterate that your safety and wellbeing remain our highest priority.

    We thank you for your support and your loyalty and will continue to keep you updated through this dynamic situation.

    With You,

    B. John

    MEA Covid-19 Control Center

    Ministry of External Affairs has already established a functional helpline for coordination on COVID-19, which has been functioning 24x7 at South Block.

    The telephone numbers of the Control Room are +91-1800118797 (toll free), +91-11-23014104, +91-11-23012113 and +91-11-23017905, Fax number - +91-11-23018158 and email :

    In addition to the above helplines, the following officers are available to provide assistance for the respective geographical areas mentioned against each:

    Latin America & Caribbean
    1. Ms.Gloria Gangte, JS(LAC)
    2. Mr. Anoop Bijily, IFS(OT)
    3. Ms. Anchita Kethwas, IFS(OT)
    +91-11-49018385 M: +91-9895981153

    1. Mr. R. Ravindra, JS(C&WA) /
    2. Ms. Aarsha N S, IFS(OT)
    3. Mr. Ashokkumar R., IFS(OT)
    +91-11-49018431 M: +91-9751888687

    Russia & Central Asia
    1. Mr. Manish Prabhat, JS(ERS)
    2. Mr. Digvijay Sanjay Patil, IFS(OT)
    3. Ms. Rangashree T, IFS(OT)
    +91-11-23013410 M: +91-7291078057

    1. Dr. T.V.Nagendra Prasad, JS(Gulf)
    2. Ms. Jagpreet Kaur, IFS(OT)
    3. Mr. Muhammed Abdul Jaleel, IFS(OT)
    +91-11-49018480 M: +91-9205066104

    1. Mr. Naveen Srivastava, JS(EA)
    2. Ms. Renjina Mary Varghese, IFS(OT)
    3. Mr. Anil Kumar Jhajharia, IFS(OT)
    +91-11-23012038 M: +91-9736424773

    1. Dr. Sahil Kumar, Under Secretary (EA)
    2. Mr. Ashish Cherian Samuel, IFS(OT)
    3. Ms. Anviti Chaturvedi, IFS(OT)
    +91-11-23015025 M: +91-8447419492

    1. Mr. Amit A.Shukla, Director(North)
    2. Ms. Namgay Choden, OT (SSFSI)
    3. Mr. Vaibhav Sunil Gondane, IFS(OT)
    +91-11-23011710 M: +91-8805176550

    South East Asia except Singapore, Philippines & Malaysia
    1. Mr. Shashank Vikram, Director (OIA-I)
    2. Mr Nikhil Kumar, IFS(OT)
    3. Ms. Pujya Priyadarshni, IFS(OT)
    +91-11-24197935 M: +91-8920616090

    Sri Lanka & Maldives
    1. Mr. Amit Narang, JS(IOR)
    2. Mr. Phurpa Tshering, OT (SSFSI)
    3. Mr. Vikram Grewal, IFS(OT)
    +91-11-23012591 M: +91-9560415859

    Bangladesh & Myanmar
    1. Ms. Smita Pant, JS(BM)
    2. Mr. Chittyreddy Sripal, IFS(OT)
    3. Ms. Reeta Meena, IFS(OT)
    +91-11-49016744 M: +91-8639730094

    Singapore & Philippines
    1. Mr. Vishvas V.Sapkal, JS(South)
    2. Mr. Dhananjay Singh Yadav, IFS(OT)
    3. Mr. Dhruv Mittal, IFS(OT)
    +91-11-49015244 M: +91-9971873778

    Europe except Italy & Spain
    1. Mr. Sandeep Arya, JS(EW)
    2. Ms. Kanishka Singh, IFS(OT)
    3. Mr. Navendu Shekhar, IFS(OT)
    +91-11-23014416 M: +91-9818957919

    Iran & Afghanistan
    1. Dr. M. Suresh Kumar, Director
    2. Mr. Mohammad Hashim, IFS(OT)
    3. Ms. Smriti Mishra, IFS(OT)
    +91-11-49016685 M: +91-9520493377

    1. Mr. S. Inbasekar, Director (South)
    2. Ms. Soumya Ranjan Rout, IFS(OT)
    3. Mr. Seviti Sai Murali, IFS(OT)
    +91-11-49015229 M: +91-8122242396

    1. Dr. Rakesh Pandey, DS (AMS)
    2. Mr. Atheeth Sajeevan, IFS(OT)
    3. Ms. Avantika Singh, IFS(OT)
    +91-11-23015447 M: +91-7907845720

    Italy & Spain
    1. Ms. Neetu Bhagotia, Director (EW)
    2. Ms. Upasana Mohapatra, IFS(OT)
    3. Mr. Shubham Yadav, IFS(OT)
    +91-11-23010710 M: +91-8221089606

    FAQ on new Visa restrictions in India till May 03, 2020

    All international flights to India and domestic flights has been cancelled till May 03, 2020.


    1. Who are not allowed?

    All passengers coming from Afghanistan, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom.

    2. Whether Employment and project visa holders allowed from restricted countries?


    3. Which visa categories are allowed to enter India for travellers from non-restricted countries ?

    Only Employment and Project visa are allowed. Other categories of visas including visa free travel facility granted to OCI Card holders stands suspended till April 15, 2020.

    4. Are dependents of exempted category visa category allowed?


    5. Are infants/children who hold foreign passports but parents is Indian allowed?

    No. They are required to get fresh visa from Indian Mission/Post.

    6. Are Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives passport holders allowed?

    Nepal and Bhutan nationals are allowed. Maldives nationals would require visa.

    7. Are foreign nationals with RC/RP/Stay Visa allowed to enter?

    Only those foreigners who have RC/RP/Stay Visa w.r.t. Employment/ Project Visas.

    8. Is COVID-19 Negative Certificate mandatory ?

    Please see website of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India.

    9. Who is the competent authority to issue COVID-19 Negative Certificates in Italy and Republic of Korea?

    Please see website of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India.

    10. Whether foreigners transiting through restricted countries allowed to enter India?

    Flights have been barred from taking passengers from restricted countries.


    1. Whether they can extend their Indian visas before expiry?

    Yes, they should approach their jurisdictional FRRO/FROs through e-FRRO

    2. Whether they can go out of India and return back?

    Yes they can go out of India. However, they can return to India with fresh visa issued from Mission/Post only.


    1. Who are not allowed?

    No airline will bring any passenger from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom effective 12.00 GMT on March 18,2020 at Port of Departure. No airline will bring any passenger from Philippines, Malaysia and Afghanistan effective 15.00 IST on March 17, 2020 (Port of Departure).

    2. Whether passengers transiting through the restricted countries will be allowed?

    There will be no transit through these countries as no aircraft will board passengers for India in these countries.

    3. Whether they will be quarantined upon arrival in India (quarantined for 14 days) ?

    a). All passengers coming from/transiting through US, UK, Australia, UAE, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait after 12.00 GMT on March 18, 2020 (Port of Departure) will be quarantined.
    b). Those who have visited China, Republic of Korea, Iran, Italy, Spain, France and Germany on or after Feb 15, 2020 will be quarantined.

    4. Is COVID-19 Negative Certificate mandatory for Indians?

    Only for those who are coming from Republic of Korea or Italy. Passengers from Italy shall not be allowed effective 12.00 GMT on March 18,2020 (Port of Departure).

    5. Whether Indians transiting through China, Republic of Korea, Iran, Italy, Spain, France and Germany be quarantined on arrival in India?


    6. Whether Indians transiting through UAE, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait be quarantined on arrival in India?

    Yes. With effect from 12.00 GMT on March 18,2020 (Port of Departure).

    WHO Recommendations for international travelers

    It is prudent for travellers who are sick to delay or avoid travel to affected areas, in particular for elderly travellers and people with chronic diseases or underlying health conditions.

    General recommendations for personal hygiene, cough etiquette and keeping a distance of at least one metre from persons showing symptoms remain particularly important for all travellers. These include:

    1. Perform hand hygiene frequently, particularly after contact with respiratory secretions. Hand hygiene includes either cleaning hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub. Alcohol-based hand rubs are preferred if hands are not visibly soiled; wash hands with soap and water when they are visibly soiled;

    2. Cover your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or paper tissue when coughing or sneezing and disposing immediately of the tissue and performing hand hygiene;

    3. Refrain from touching mouth and nose;

    4. A medical mask is not required if exhibiting no symptoms, as there is no evidence that wearing a mask of any type protects non-sick persons. However, in some cultures, masks may be commonly worn. If masks are to be worn, it is critical to follow best practices on how to wear, remove and dispose of them and on hand hygiene after removal

    As for any travel, travellers are also advised to follow proper food hygiene practices, including the five keys for food safety, as well as recommendations to reduce the risk of transmission of emerging pathogens from animals to human in live markets.

    Travellers returning from affected areas should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days and follow national protocols of receiving countries. Some countries may require returning travellers to enter quarantine. If symptoms occur, such as fever, or cough or difficulty breathing, travellers are advised to contact local health care providers, preferably by phone, and inform them of their symptoms and their travel history. For travellers identified at points of entry, it is recommended to follow WHO advice for the management of travellers at points of entry. Guidance on treatment of sick passengers on board of airplanes is available on ICAO and IATA websites. Key considerations for planning of large mass gathering events are also available on WHO's website. Operational considerations for managing COVID-19 cases on board of ships has also been published.

    For countries which decide to repatriate nationals from affected areas, they should consider the following to avoid further spread of COVID-19: exit screening shortly before flight; risk communication to travellers and crew; infection control supplies for voyage; crew preparedness for possibility of sick passenger in flight; entry screening on arrival and close follow-up for 14 days after arrival.

    Dear Travelers

    In response to the dynamic coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, I'd like to share some additional actions Bonjour is taking to allow for even more flexibility regarding your upcoming travel.

    Guided by our purpose of care, we are temporarily adjusting our policies to allow for maximum flexibility to help you make the right decisions regarding travel at this time.

    Existing reservations for upcoming travel between March 14 and April 30, 2020:
    All existing reservations made before March 13, 2020 that are for arrivals between March 14 and April 30, 2020 can be changed or cancelled at no charge up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival. This includes part or fully paid reservations.

    New reservations for any future travel:
    Any reservation you make between March 13, 2020 and April 30, 2020 for any future arrival date can be changed or cancelled at no charge up to 72 hours before your scheduled arrival. This includes part or fully paid reservations.

    For full details and to make arrangements, please call one of our Global Contact Centers
    U.S.: (+1) 917.994.8055
    E.U.: (+32) 460.211.522
    India: (+91) 916.878.4477
    or email us at

    Guests who booked via sub travel agents or other third parties are advised to contact their booking provider for information on their policies and for assistance.

    On behalf of the entire Bonjour family, I want to reiterate that your safety and wellbeing remain our highest priority.

    We thank you for your support and your loyalty and will continue to keep you updated through this dynamic situation.

    My Best,

    B. John