Britain on Monday added India to its COVID-19 travel "red list", which effectively bans all travel from the country and makes a 10-day hotel quarantine compulsory for UK residents arriving back to the country.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the move in the House of Commons as he revealed that 103 cases of the so-called Indian variant had been identified in the UK, of which the "vast majority have links to international travel". He said that samples of that variant have been analysed to see if the new variant has any "concerning characteristics", such as greater transmissibility or resistance to treatments and vaccines.
"After studying the data, and on a precautionary basis, we've made the difficult but vital decision to add India to the red list," the minister told MPs. "This means anyone who is not a UK or Irish citizen... cannot enter the UK if they have been in India in the previous 10 days," he said.
The new rules, which Hancock said has not been taken lightly, will come into force from Friday. The move came hours after Downing Street had announced the cancellation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's visit to India next week due to a spike in coronavirus infections in the country.
Earlier, when asked if India would be added to the travel red list, Johnson said that was "very much a matter for the independent UK Health Security Agency they will have to take that decision".
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