India Added to “Red List” over New Variant Concerns

India will be added to the Government’s “red list” for international travel as a “precautionary measure” after 103 people in the U.K. were found carrying the country’s Covid variant. From Friday, Brits coming from or through India will have to quarantine in Government approved hotels for 11 days, costing £1,750 per person (or £2,400 for two people sharing a room). Those who break these quarantine rules could face a fine of up to £10,000. The Guardian has the story.

India will be added to England’s travel “red list” from 4am on Friday, Matt Hancock has announced, as surge testing got under way to tackle a growth in cases of a coronavirus variant first discovered in the country.

The Health Secretary said that of 103 people in the UK who have so far been found to be carrying the Indian variant, the “vast majority” had links to international travel – suggesting at least some have been infected by community transmission.

He said scientists were working to see if the variant had any “concerning characteristics” such as being more transmissible or resistant to vaccines, but that in the meantime the move had been taken on a “precautionary basis”.

The decision means most travel from India will be banned, with only UK citizens and residents allowed to arrive from the country, and all those who do must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.

Hancock admitted that the “biggest risk” to coronavirus restrictions being eased was a “new variant that the vaccine does not work as well against”, so surge testing would be rolled out “to make sure that we limit the spread as much as possible”.

Labour has (of course) supported the Government’s decision, with Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth saying that “we must act fast when the situation is controllable because in a few weeks time it might not be”.

The addition of India means there will be 40 countries on the Government’s travel “red list”, including parts of southern Africa and all of South America. While some have said that the Indian Covid variant could “scupper” Britain’s “roadmap” out of lockdown, others, such as JCVI member Professor Adam Finn, have said that this verdict is “pessimistic” because immunity from vaccines “won’t just disappear”. The announcement that India has been added to the “red list” came after the Prime Minister cancelled his trip to the country due to take place next Monday.

“I do think it’s only sensible to postpone, given what’s happened in India, the shape of the pandemic there,” he said.

The Guardian’s report is worth reading in full.

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