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India imposes tit-for-tat Covid curbs on UK nationals

Source: PTI
Last updated on: October 02, 2021 00:01 IST
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British nationals arriving in India, irrespective of their vaccination status, will have to undergo 10 days of mandatory quarantine from October 4 as part of the reciprocal actions initiated by the government following the vaccine certification row between the two countries.

IMAGE: Kindly note that this image has been posted for representational purposes only. Photograph: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters.

India has decided to impose reciprocal curbs against all British nationals arriving in the country, official sources said on Friday as the contentious issue relating to the UK not recognising Indian vaccine certificates could not be resolved despite holding a series of technical-level talks.

 

In a strong reaction to the new British travel rules, India on September 19 had warned of "reciprocal measures" unless the UK addresses its concerns while describing these norms against Indians as "discriminatory".

Under India's new norms, all British nationals arriving in India from the UK, irrespective of their vaccination status, will have to produce the result of the RT-PCR test done within 72 hours before travel.

They will also have to undertake two more RT-PCR tests, one on their arrival at the airport in India and the second one on Day 8 after arrival, the sources said.

Besides the tests, all the travellers will have to undergo mandatory quarantine at home or in the destination address for 10 days after arrival in India, the sources said, adding authorities in the Health and Civil Aviation ministries would be taking steps to implement the new measures.

A spokesperson at the British High Commission said the UK is continuing to work on expanding its travel policy to countries and territories across the globe in a phased approach.

"We are continuing to engage with the government of India on technical cooperation to expand UK recognition of vaccine certification to people vaccinated by a relevant public health body in India," the official said without directly commenting on India's reciprocal measures.

"The UK is open to travel and we're already seeing a lot of people going from India to the UK, be it tourists, business people or students. Over 62,500 student visas have been issued in the year ending June 2021, which is an increase of almost 30 per cent as compared to the previous year," the spokesperson added.

The official also said the UK wants to make the process of travelling as easy as possible.

As per the current Indian travel rules, airlines need to ensure negative RT-PCR before allowing passengers to board in case of those coming from the UK.

On arrival, they need to give sample at Indian airport and exit. In case of positive result, they need to be isolated and treated. For negative results, they need to be in home quarantine for 7 days and get re-tested.

Under the new British rules that are also coming into effect from Monday, fully vaccinated Indians will have to undergo 10-day quarantine as the UK have issues with India's Covid-19 vaccine certification.

The UK initially refused to recognise Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII). However, following India's strong criticism of the decision, the UK on September 22 amended its new guidelines and included the vaccine.

However, the move did not provide any relief from quarantine rules for Indian travellers vaccinated with two doses of Covishield. Later, British officials said the UK has issues with India's vaccine certification process and not with the Covishield vaccine.

The two sides held series of technical-level talks to resolve the vaccine certification issue, but there has not been any solution to it as yet.

According to the new UK rules, Indian travellers who received both doses of the Covishield vaccine will be considered unvaccinated.

The new British rules have triggered massive criticism in India.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also took up the issue of Covishield-vaccinated travellers being required to quarantine in the UK with newly-appointed British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss at a meeting in New York on September 21.

People familiar with the British travel rules said decisions on vaccine recognition are made by ministers, taking into account public health factors and the authorities in the country are looking at expanding the role that vaccination can play more widely for those who have been fully vaccinated elsewhere to enter the UK.

They said the UK has kept visa rules under constant review throughout the pandemic to keep borders open whilst gradually and safely restarting travel.

"We will continue to review the scientific evidence on other vaccines and will keep the health measures under regular review," said one of the people.

Developed by researchers at the University of Oxford and pharma giant AstraZeneca, Covishield is one of the two anti-COVID vaccines used by India -- Bharat Biotech's Covaxin being the other --in its vaccination drive across the country.

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