Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid-19: India-UK travel ban begins amid uptick in Indian variant cases

Prasun Sonwalkar/London
Filed on April 23, 2021

New Delhi figures on 'red list' of countries along with Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Britain’s public health authorities have reported 55 more cases of the Indian variant (B.1.617) that led to India being put on the ‘red list’ of countries from where travel to the United Kingdom (UK) is banned. The ban came into force at 4am UK time on Friday.

The ban brings the number of countries on the list to 40, including Pakistan and Bangladesh, upsetting the travel of many from the Indian sub-continent, including pupils halfway through their courses at UK universities.

Only British, Irish nationals, and those with residence rights will be allowed to arrive, but will need to quarantine for 10 days in a government-approved hotel at a cost of £1,750 (Dh8,920.38), the Department of Transport said.

Public Health England said in its latest update that the total number of cases of the Indian variant in the UK is 132, including 119 in England, eight in Wales, and five in Scotland. The figure is an increase of 55 cases since the last update on April 14.

The overall number of new infections, deaths, and hospitalisations continues to fall across the UK, encouraging the Boris Johnson government to consider issuing ‘Covid-19 passports’ (paper or digital) to Britons for travel to a select list of countries during summer holidays from May 17 onwards.

Over 33 million (m) people have received the first of their two doses of the vaccine, with more than 11m receiving both doses. The rapid pace of vaccination is among the factors encouraging the UK government to further ease restrictions according to a roadmap announced by Prime Minister Johnson in March.

According to transport secretary Grant Shapps, the passports “will, of course, be a part of international travel,” hoping that they would not be viewed as “controversial” and stressing the need for a cautious reopening given the threat of virus variants.

The government is expected to announce before May 17 a traffic-light system by which countries, where Britons could travel, are categorised according to the prevalence of the virus there: green, amber, and red. Israel, some Caribbean countries, and some areas of Spain are expected to be on the green list.

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