The British government defended on Sunday for having delayed taking action to tighten restrictions on travelers from India, in the face of a worrying surge of the Indian variant in England that could disrupt the pursuit of deconfinement.
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On April 19, the executive decided to place India on the red list of countries whose travelers are banned from entering the United Kingdom, except residents who are obliged to carry out a ten-day quarantine at the hotel. The measure had been applied from early April in neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh. The announcement came on the day Prime Minister Boris Johnson canceled his official visit to India, his first major trip abroad, due to a worsening pandemic in that country.
Health Minister Matt Hancock on Sunday denied that the decision to put India on the red list was pushed back due to the Tory leader's trip.
We make these decisions based on the evidence,
" he told Sky News.
He claimed that India was redlisted before the Indian variant was designated as a “
variant under investigation
” and because of the “
high positivity rate
” of travelers from that country.
Read also: How the Institut Pasteur improves understanding of the English variant
Boris Johnson on Friday warned the Indian variant risked disrupting almost all restrictions in England, scheduled for June 21, if it continued to spread there, after a worrying surge in north-west England and in London. Despite calls for caution from scientists, however, he felt that there was no reason to postpone the easing planned for Monday, with the return of theatrical service in pubs and restaurants, the reopening of cultural venues and restaurants. stadiums in limited capacity, and the resumption of trips abroad.
The scientific committee advising the government (Sage) estimated that there was a "
" that the variant was up to 50% more contagious than that which appeared at the end of 2020 in the south-east in England.
The latter had led to an outbreak of contaminations and deaths in the United Kingdom, forcing the country to reconfigure itself for long months in January.
Read also: Will you be able to remove your mask when you are vaccinated?
If it turns out 40% to 50% more contagious, relaxing restrictions on Monday could "
lead to a substantial upsurge in hospitalizations
" which would be "
similar or greater than previous peaks
", when health services were on the brink saturation, the committee warned. The number of cases attributed to the Indian variant in the UK climbed from 520 last week to 1,313 this week, according to the Department of Health.