COVID-19: UK adds India to travel ‘red list’, here’s what it means

The United Kingdom will add India to its travel “red list” on a precautionary basis after reporting 103 cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in India, health minister Matt Hancock said on Monday.

“On a precautionary basis, we have made the difficult but vital decision to add India to the Red List. This means anyone who is not a UK or Irish resident or a British citizen cannot enter the UK if they’ve been in India in the previous 10 days,” Hancock told parliament.

Hancock also said that UK and Irish residents and British citizens who have been in India in the past 10 days before their arrival will need to complete hotel quarantine for 10 days from the time of arrival.

The rules come into force at 4 am local time (0300 GMT) on Friday, Hancock said.

The minister confirmed that 103 cases of the Indian variant, of which the “vast majority have links to international travel”, have been detected in the UK so far.

Asked whether vaccines being rolled out in Britain worked against the variant, Hancock said he could not give that assurance but was looking to establish an answer as soon as possible.

The British High Commission in India said that the decision is to help prevent the spread of variants of concern and protect the most vulnerable.

“If you are a British or Irish National in India, or an Indian national with residency rights in the UK, you will now be required to undergo 10 full days managed hotel quarantine on arrival in England at your expense,” it added.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also cancelled his planned visit to India next week due to the coronavirus situation there, Downing Street announced on Monday.

“Narendra Modi and I have basically come to the conclusion that, very sadly, I won’t be able to go ahead with the trip,” Johnson told reporters, during a visit to Gloucestershire soon after the Downing Street announcement.

“I do think it’s only sensible to postpone, given what’s happened in India, the shape of the pandemic there. Countries around the world including our own have been through this. I think everybody’s got a massive amount of sympathy with India, what they’re going through,” he said.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi said the decision followed a mutual agreement and that the two leaders will hold a virtual meeting in the coming days instead.

(With inputs from agencies)

(With inputs from DNA India)

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