Engaged with India to expand recognition of COVID-19 vaccines, says UK amid backlash over new travel rules

#coronavirus, #India, #Travel, #United Kingdom, #world, spokesperson said, slammed the UK's travel rules

Reuters

After facing intense backlash from Indians over the revised travel guidelines, the UK on September 20 said that it is engaging with New Delhi to explore how it could expand the recognition of the COVID-19 vaccine certification issued by Indian authorities amid criticism of the new British travel rules.

As per the revised rules, which will come into effect from October 4, Indian travellers who have received both doses of the Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) will be considered unvaccinated and will have to undergo self-isolation for 10 days.

Read | UK may review its new COVID travel policy for India: Sources

Questioned about the concerns in India over the new rules, a British High Commission spokesperson said the UK is committed to opening up international travel again “as soon as is practicable”.

“The UK is committed to opening up international travel again as soon as is practicable and this announcement is a further step to enable people to travel more freely again, in a safe and sustainable way, while protecting public health,” the spokesperson said.

“We are engaging with the Government of India to explore how we could expand the UK recognition of vaccine certification to people vaccinated by a relevant public health body in India,” the spokesperson added.

Also read | UK travel rule for India ‘offensive’, ‘smacks of racism’, say Congress’ Tharoor and Ramesh

From October 4, the current “traffic light system” of red, amber, green countries based on levels of COVID-19 risk will be replaced by one red list of countries.

The scrapping of the amber list, which is what India is currently on, means a reduced PCR test cost burden only for some travellers.

The expanded list of countries whose vaccines are recognised in the UK does not include India. It means Indians vaccinated with Covishield, the SII-produced Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, would be required to undergo compulsory PCR tests as well as self-isolation.

Read | UK eases rules for vaccinated travellers, India to benefit

Meanwhile, former Union ministers and Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh, Anand Sharma and Shashi Tharoor slammed the UK’s travel rules, with Ramesh saying it “smacks of racism”.

Tharoor said that because of the restrictions he had even pulled out of a debate at The Cambridge Union debating society and from the launch events for the UK edition of his latest book.

Sharma urged the Prime Minister’s Office to take a stand against the UK’s double standards and cancel the proposed India-UK trade talks.

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