President Joe Biden is preparing to restrict travel from India beginning next week, as the country grapples with a massive coronavirus outbreak, a White House official confirmed.
The decision came at the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but it will not apply to U.S. citizens or humanitarian workers. It will officially take effect on May 4.
The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The restrictions come on the heels of a mushrooming health crisis in India, which is currently in the midst of the worst Covid-19 outbreak in the world.
The U.S. on Thursday began shipping a range of medical supplies to the country, including oxygen and protective equipment. It is also sending the materials needed to manufacture 20 million doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine.
But India’s growing death toll has also increased pressure on the administration to do more to help the rest of the world stamp out the pandemic.
Earlier this week, Biden pledged to send 60 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses overseas following a call with India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi. But the shots must first clear a safety review that could take weeks, and administration officials remain split over when to begin a more sustained effort to aid the Covid-19 response in other countries.
The White House in the meantime is facing calls from progressives groups and even some Democrats in Congress to ramp up its assistance to India.
“The United States cannot sit idly by as millions suffer from this pandemic,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote in a letter to Biden on Wednesday. “In light of this growing humanitarian crisis, I urge you to leverage all tools and resources available to the United States to provide relief to India.”
Biden has limited travel from a series of countries in the first months of his presidency, including reimposing Trump-era bans on non-U.S. travelers from Brazil, the U.K., Ireland and dozens of other European countries. The administration in January also restricted travel from South Africa, in response to the emergence there of a more transmissible new Covid variant.