India to be added to travel ban ‘red list’ over Covid variant fears

Matt Hancock says measure is necessary to ‘protect’ progress in suppressing Covid-19

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Monday 19 April 2021 16:06
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Matt Hancock, health secretary
Matt Hancock, health secretary

India will be added to the UK’s “red list” of countries where travel is banned under Covid regulations, the health secretary has said.

It comes after Boris Johnson cancelled a trip to the country scheduled for next week.

Matt Hancock told the Commons on Monday that the decision had been made “after studying the data, and on a precautionary basis”.

“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,” he explained.

“UK and Irish residents and British citizens who've 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. These rules will come into force at 4am on Friday.”.

Mr Hancock added: “Mr Speaker, India is a country, I know well, and love. Between our two countries we have ties of friendship and family. I understand the impact of this decision, but I hope that the House will concur that we must act because we must protect the progress that we've made in this country, in tackling this awful disease.”

Responding to the announcement, Jeremy Hunt, the chair of the Commons health select committee, said: "The health secretary is absolutely right to put India on the red list."

The move was also welcomed by Labour. Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called on the government to designate the Indian variant of Covid-19 as a “variant of concern” and begun surge testing in areas where cases had been detected.

It comes after Boris Johnson this morning shelved a visit to the country due to its worsening coronavirus situation.

The prime minister had been due to meet with his counterpart Narendra Modi to discuss relations between the two states.

India's latest Covid figures show the country recording a surge of 273,810 new cases and 1,619 fatalities – with the pandemic apparently spiralling out of control.

In a joint statement, the two governments said: “In the light of the current coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be able to travel to India next week.

“Instead, Prime Ministers Modi and Johnson will speak later this month to agree and launch their ambitious plans for the future partnership between the UK and India. They will remain in regular contact beyond this, and look forward to meeting in person later this year.”

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