Responding to the threat of the new Covid-19 variant, the UK has added India to its “red list”, effective Friday 3am GMT. This means that anyone not a resident of the UK or Ireland, or a British citizen, cannot enter the UK if they have been to India in the previous 10 days.
From 04:00 BST on Friday 23 April, most people who have travelled from India in the last 10 days will be refused entry. British or Irish passport holders, or people with UK residence rights, will be allowed in but must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days. The decision was taken as there had been 103 UK cases of the India variant. The vast majority of the cases of the new variant – officially known as B.1.617 – had been linked to international travel. Test samples had been analysed to see if the new variant had any “concerning characteristics” such as greater transmissibility or resistance to treatments and vaccines. Health officials say this new variant, first identified in India, has some worrying genetic changes that need exploring.
It’s still too soon to say if it is more contagious, deadly and will evade vaccines – and whether it should join the Variant of Concern list that the South Africa, Kent and Brazil variants belong to and the government is looking to stop more cases arriving and spreading in the country. Other countries in the UK’s red list include Pakistan, Bangladesh, Oman, the Philippines, Qatar, South Africa, the UAE and Zimbabwe.