Wednesday, 05 May, 2021


UK probes virus variant detected in India

Boris Johnson cancels India trip amid COVID surge Boris Johnsons India visit cancelled as coronavirus cases increase
Melba Vasquez | 20 April, 2021, 06:04

Industry chiefs and strategic experts on Monday were unanimous in their view that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelling his visit to India next week was the right move, given the COVID-19 pandemic situation, and expressed confidence that it was unlikely to affect the momentum behind an enhanced UK-India trade partnership.

The red list is the government's list of 40 countries from which there are strict restrictions on travel to England.

Johnson was planning to travel to India on April 26 for four days to attend a series of meetings with government officials. British or Irish passport holders and those with United Kingdom residence rights will be allowed in but must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days.

He described the decision to add India to the "red list" as "difficult but vital".

Mr Ashworth highlighted how India currently has "one of the world's steepest surges" in COVID cases, with the India variant of the disease now having become dominant in the Asian country over the past few weeks and "outcompeting our own homegrown Kent strain". These are the variant first found in Kent, the Kent variant with a specific E484K mutation, the Brazilian variant (carries E484K) and the South African variant (carries E484K).

Hospitals are becoming overrun and they are running out of ventilators, with New Delhi placed under a week's strict lockdown from 19 April.

Earlier in his update, Hancock said 557 cases of South Africa variant had been identified since it was first detected in December - and said two thirds of the cases are related to global travel, picked up by testing on arrivals after day two and day eight, as well as a "small amount" of community transmission.

Variants of concern with the E484K mutation seem to spread more easily and more quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of Covid-19 and, subsequently, more death.

"Higher transmissibility of this variant is not established as yet", India's Health Ministry said Friday.

Professor Christina Pagel, a member of the Independent Sage committee and director of clinical operational research at University College London, had also called for India to be on the red list.

Yvette Cooper, the chair of the home affairs select committee, said India should have been put on the red list when it was updated 10 days ago to include countries with "lower and slower Covid rates" including Pakistan and Bangladesh.

"Earlier on Monday, Johnson told broadcasters it was "sensible" to postpone his India trip given the shape of the pandemic there". The soaring cases and deaths come just months after India thought it had seen the worst of the pandemic.

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