India is not on the UK’s red travel list, although there have been 77 cases in the UK of a variant that has surfaced there and is linked to a strong outbreak.
Public Health England announced dozens of new cases yesterday and said the burden was being investigated “due to continued international transmission”.
It has now been found that those who wear the variant tested positive in February, which means they could have passed it on to dozens of others by now.
India is in a major second wave of infections that may be accelerated by the mutant strain. 176,000 new cases were confirmed on Thursday alone. This is a rate of 127 cases per million people compared to 23 per million in the UK.
Downing Street has defended India’s hotel quarantine list, saying the register is “under constant review”. Boris Johnson will be making a diplomatic visit to India later this month.
However, neighboring Bangladesh and Pakistan are on the list, though their outbreaks are only a third the size.
India is not on the UK’s red list, Pakistan and Bangladesh however, although there are currently minor outbreaks
Public Health England confirmed in a routine report yesterday that 77 cases of the Indian variant had been found in the UK.
B.1.617 is known to carry mutations that accelerate the spread and partially bypass the immunity.
It is believed to have contributed to the now growing outbreak in India, and government sources said the UK is monitoring it “due to ongoing international broadcast”.
Seventy-three cases were in England and four in Scotland.
WHICH COUNTRIES ARE ON THE RED LIST?
- Cape Verde
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- French Guiana
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The first are from February, reports The Guardian, although no announcement was made as of yesterday.
Public Health England does not usually make the announcement until it becomes clear that the variant could be dangerous.
Variations in the virus are constant and when cases first appear it is difficult to tell whether or not they are significant or whether there is a trend.
A similar delay occurred before testing began to include the South African variant. PHE officials knew the variant would spread in the UK in December, but didn’t test communities to weed it out until February.
The Indian variant was first discovered by scientists in March when it was described by the government in New Delhi as a “double mutant”.
They suggested that the variant had formed as a hybrid of two other strains and showed evidence that it was more infectious and less susceptible to attack by the immune system.
Two key mutations differentiate it from others – E484Q and L452R – both of which are found on the “tip” that the virus uses to attach to human cells.
These are not believed to be key mutations of any of the other variants on Public Health England’s list, but they have already appeared in virus samples.
Dr. Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at Reading University, said at the time, “As for the L452R mutation, we are still waiting for a proper definition of how it works.”
The arrival of the India variant in the UK and the fact that the country is experiencing a massive resurgence in Covid-19 cases do not seem to have triggered any alarm bells in the Foreign Office.
India is still not on the red list, meaning travelers would have to go to hotel quarantine if they suffered from coronavirus, despite its close neighbors being on the list despite having minor outbreaks.
A spokesman # 10 said today: “We are adding and removing countries based on the latest scientific data and public health recommendations from a number of world-leading experts.
“We will keep it under review and we will not hesitate to introduce stricter restrictions and add countries as we see fit.”
Surge tests are being carried out in London to weed out cases of the South African variant that experts have identified as “the most worrying” strain
India is in a rough second wave of the virus, with infection rates higher than when it first exploded last summer.
An astonishing 175,910 new cases were diagnosed yesterday, nearly triple the 65,000 cases on April 1st.
Boris Johnson will be visiting India on April 26th and his team insists that “all elements of the trip are Covid Safe”.
Individuals traveling to the UK from Red List countries are not allowed to enter the UK unless they are residents or citizens.
Vacationers or those with no legal right to be in the UK will be turned away at the border, while others must be quarantined at a hotel at their own expense.
For example, if Brits are flying back to the UK from a country on the list, they’ll have to spend 10 days alone in a hotel to make sure they don’t spread the virus.
You also have to test yourself twice for Covid during this time.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE INDIAN VARIANT?
Real name: B.1.617
When and where was it discovered? The variant was first reported as worrying by the Indian government at the end of March. The first cases appear to be going back to October 2020.
What mutations does it have? The two main mutations are called E484Q and L452R, which scientists suspect may help transmit faster and get past immune cells made in response to older variants. These mutations are routinely not found in other variants monitored by Public Health England.
How many people in the UK are infected with it? According to a report published on April 15, there have been 77 people so far. Their locations are unknown.