A new controversy has erupted in India after the UK government has issued its new international travel advisory for Covid vaccinated people coming in and out of England. As flagged by senior Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh and Shashi Tharoor on Monday, the matter is that the UK has said the Indians vaccinated with Covishield would still be treated as unvaccinated.
Passengers who aren’t recognised as being fully vaccinated with authorised vaccines and certificates under England’s international travel rules, including Indians, will still have to take a pre-departure test, a day 2 and day 8 PCR test, and self-isolate at their given address for 10 days upon entry, according to the rules.
Former Union ministers Ramesh and Tharoor slammed the UK’s Covid-19-related travel rules and called it “offensive and smacks of racism”. “Absolutely bizarre considering Covishield was originally developed in the UK and The Serum Institute, Pune has supplied to that country too! This smacks of racism,” Ramesh tweeted.
Absolutely bizarre considering Covishield was originally developed in the UK and The Serum Institute, Pune has supplied to that country too! This smacks of racism. https://t.co/GtKOzMgydf
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) September 20, 2021
Tagging a thread on Twitter that explained the UK Covid rules, Tharoor, an MP for Thiruvananthapuram, also slammed the restrictions on vaccinated Indians and said, “Because of this I have pulled out of a debate at the
@cambridgeunion &out of launch events for the UK edition of my book #TheBattleOfBelonging (published there as #TheStruggleForIndiasSoul). It is offensive to ask fully vaccinated Indians to quarantine. The Brits are reviewing!”
Because of this I have pulled out of a debate at the @cambridgeunion &out of launch events for the UK edition of my book #TheBattleOfBelonging (published there as #TheStruggleForIndiasSoul). It is offensive to ask fully vaccinated Indians to quarantine. The Brits are reviewing! https://t.co/YEVy3Ez5dj
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) September 20, 2021
From October 4, the current traffic light system of red, amber and green countries based on levels of Covid-19 risk will be scrapped and replaced with one red list only, the UK government on Friday announced.
The scrapping of an amber list, which is what India is currently on, means reduced cost burden for travellers especially for the Indian diaspora vaccinated in the UK related to compulsory PCR tests. However, an expanded list of countries whose vaccines are recognised in England does not include India, which means that Indians vaccinated with Covishield the Serum Institute of India produced Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine would still be required to undergo a pre-departure PCR test and further tests on landing in the UK.
From October 4, travellers from 17 additional countries with eligible vaccines, including Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, will no longer need to take pre-departure PCR tests for travelling into England. “Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry, said UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
All passengers will still need to fill in the compulsory passenger locator form ahead of travel. In the latest update, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are among eight red list destinations moved off the travel ban list from next Wednesday. Turkey, the Maldives, Egypt, Oman, and Kenya are the others to be off the red list.
From the end of October, fully vaccinated passengers from non-red list countries will be able to replace the current compulsory day-two PCR test requirement with cheaper lateral flow tests. Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a free confirmatory PCR test, which would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants. Today we have simplified the travel rules to make them easier to understand and follow, opening up tourism and reducing the costs to go abroad, said UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
(with inputs from PTI)