Just a few hours after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled his trip to India, the country went on to the so-called “red list” of nations.
The British health secretary, Matt Hancock, confirmed that the government would designate India as a red-listed country at 4 am on April 23. India will join 39 other countries. UK citizens who arrive from India will have to quarantine in a hotel for ten days compulsorily.
Non-UK citizens will not be allowed entry into the country. Matt Hancock stressed that the “biggest risk” to the vaccination programme in the UK was the threat of variants. India has reported a mutant strain of the virus, locally dubbed at the “double mutant” strain in India or the B.1.617 mutant.
Experts have predicted that India would be critical to the UK’s ‘Global Britain’ post-Brexit.
The Prime Minister was going to visit India to discuss strengthening trade ties. The visit was first planned for Jan 26, India’s Republic Day but was cancelled because of the second wave of covid infections in the UK. Now, it has been cancelled again.
India is reporting a deadly second wave. 273,000 new infections were reported from across the country, and 1619 deaths took place in just one day. After a relative easing of restrictions, many cities are beginning to clamp down and declare lockdowns.
Labour’s shadow health secretary, Jon Ashworth said in parliament, “Surely we now need to start surge testing and designate the B.1.617 as a variant of concern.”