NEW DELHI (CU)_British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told the House of Commons that India would be added to the “red list” of countries which have reported high rates of COVID-19. This means that most visitors from the South Asian nation will be banned from entering the UK.
Apart from UK citizens and returning British and Irish residents, any other person who has been in India within the previous 10 days from Friday (16 April) will not be allowed into the UK. Meanwhile, citizens and residents who return will face 10 days of mandatory hotel quarantine upon arrival.
“I understand the impact of this decision, but I hope the House will concur that we must act,” the Health Secretary noted.
He noted that 103 cases of the virus variant first identified in India had been detected in the UK. Accordingly, scientists are conducting research to determine if this variant transmits more rapidly and if it is more resistant to the COVID-19 vaccines that are being administered in the UK.
Over the recent weeks, India has been experiencing a rapid surge in infections leading to a shortage in oxygen, ventilators, medicine and hospital beds. The South Asian nation reported more than 270,000 new infections on Monday and 1,619 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. The country currently has the fourth-highest number of deaths in the world, after the US, Brazil and Mexico.
Meanwhile, the governments of Britain and India announced on Monday that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be travelling to Delhi next week as planned, “in the light of the current coronavirus situation”. They said that PM Johnson will speak to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month, while the two leaders hope to meet in person later this year.
Had the British PM visited India, it would have been his first foreign visit since the beginning of the pandemic last year. The trip was originally scheduled for January but had to be postponed owing to high Coronavirus infections reported in Britain back then.
Announcing his decision to postpone the trip once again, PM Johnson said it was “only sensible” considering the shape of the pandemic in India. He added that he hoped PM Modi would visit Britain for the G7 summit which is scheduled to be held in June, for which India has been invited as a guest.