The UK on Monday placed India on the list of banned countries for travel due to an alarming rise in coronavirus cases in several parts of the country. The decision to put India in the ‘red list’ came hours after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the cancellation of his visit to New Delhi, scheduled for next week.
India being placed in the ‘red list’ effectively means that British or Irish passport holders, or people with UK residence rights, will have to quarantine themselves for 10 days in a government-approved hotel after arriving in the UK.
They would be required to undertake two COVID tests on day 2 and day 8 after arriving in the UK. They would be released only after they’ve tested negative in both tests. This would increase their ticket price by more than 1.70 lakh person.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock made the announcement in the parliament saying that the government was forced to take the decision after 103 cases of the India variant were detected in the last few weeks.
In a statement to the House of Commons on Monday, Hancock said that the a large majority of the cases of the new variant had been linked to international travel. The new variant is officially known as B.1.617.
“After studying the data, and on a precautionary basis, we’ve made the difficult but vital decision to add India to the red list,” Hancock told the British parliament.
British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted, “The latest data shows we must add #India to the Government’s Red List, ensuring we don’t lose our hard-won progress on the vaccine rollout.”
Experts are currently investigating if the new variant carried any ‘concerning characteristics’ such as greater transmissibility or resistance to treatments and vaccines.
Earlier, the UK had placed Pakistan and Bangladesh in the red list, which caused massive travel chaos at those countries’ airports. The new travel ban on travellers from India comes into effect from Friday, 24 April.