Hancock says the UK is on track to normal life as he announces India will be placed on red list

Abbianca Makoni
·2-min read
<p>Prime Minister Boris Johnson was meant to visit India at the end of April</p> (PA Archive)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was meant to visit India at the end of April

(PA Archive)

Matt Hancock has said the UK is on track for a return to normal as he announced that India will be moved to the travel red list on Friday morning.

Speaking to MPs in the House of Commons, he said that although the virus had been “diminished” it was not defeated.

It comes as UK health officials identified 103 cases of the India variant, officially called B.1.617, in travellers from the nation.

The variant is now being investigated to understand whether or not it is more transmissible, leads to more severe disease or can fight off immunity.

The Health Secretary started off his long-anticipated statement by saying that “cases, hospitalisations and deaths are back to the levels we saw in September.

“Throughout the crisis we’ve protected the NHS and there are now 2,186 people in hospital with Covid across the UK, down 94 per cent from the peak. And the average number of daily deaths is 25, down 98 per cent.”

He continued: “And now, with fewer Covid patients in hospital, the NHS is already turning to focus on the work to tackle the Covid backlog.

“Step by step we are returning this country towards normal life and we are on track to meet the road map set out by the Prime Minister.”

Mr Hancock added that India will be added to the coronavirus travel “red list” from 4am on Friday.

People with UK residence rights will be allowed back into the country but must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days.

The move comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled his trip to India because of the rise in cases.

The nation of 1.3 billion people reported a record high of 273,810 infections on Monday - the fifth consecutive day of more than 200,000 cases.

While Delhi - a city which has now entered a week long lockdown - 25,500 fresh cases were reported on Sunday, with almost one-third of those tested returning positive coronavirus results.

Mr Hancock said of putting India on the red list: “India is a country I know well and love. Between our two countries we have ties of friendship and family. I understand the impact of this decision but I hope the House will concur that we must act.”

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India added to red list as concerns mount over coronavirus variants