London, 19 April 2021 (dpa/MIA) – India has been added to Britain’s “red list” of countries, the British health secretary announced on Monday, as the increasingly dire coronavirus situation in India led to an upcoming trip by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be cancelled.
From Friday, at 0300 GMT, British and Irish residents who have visited India in the preceding 10 days before arrival on British or Irish soil must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days from the time of arrival, Matt Hancock said on Monday.
“I understand the impact of this decision, but I hope the House [of Commons] will concur we must act because we must protect the progress we have made in tackling this awful disease,” Hancock told lawmakers.
Johnson’s visit, which was being held as part of a post-Brexit trade drive, was originally due to be four days long, with the British leader flying out on April 25 and officially starting his visit the next day.
A joint statement from the British and Indian governments on Monday 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.”
A six-day lockdown is due to take place in India‘s capital from Monday evening after the nation saw a rising number of cases over the past month. The country’s health ministry said there was an “urgent and critical need of hospital beds” in some states.
A total of 1,619 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours.
On Monday, the state of Maharashtra reported the highest daily new caseload with 68,631. It was followed by Uttar Pradesh with 30,566, while Delhi reported 25,462 new cases.
Hours before the red list announcement on Monday, Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, said he expected India to be placed on the list.
“At the moment, this particular variant [from India] is called a variant under investigation, not a variant of concern, because it hasn’t been escalated to that level yet,” he told British broadcaster ITV.
“My assumption from everything I’ve seen is that it will become a variant of concern,” he said. “When it becomes a variant of concern, I’d be quite surprised if India wasn’t on the red list.”
Countries placed on a red list in Britain require people flying back to enter, at their own expense, a government-approved hotel for 10 full days to quarantine, where they are routinely tested.
People flying in from non-red-list countries can quarantine at home.