India tackles UK over discriminatory travel rules

A worker sanitises a sign at the International arrivals area of Terminal 5 in London's Heathrow Airport, Britain, August 2, 2021. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
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The government of India has described U.K.’s decision to exclude vaccinated Indian travelers from its new travel guidelines as discriminatory, warning of reciprocating the same measures.

The UK government had stated that from October, it would allow fully vaccinated travelers from a list of countries to skip quarantine upon arrival, except for Indians who are fully vaccinated and will still be required to be quarantined, according to CNBC.

In the previous week, the U.K. eased travel restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals from 17 countries saying they would not have to stay in quarantine after arriving in England.

Upon arrival, travelers will be expected to show evidence that they received a full course of any of the Covid vaccines approved in the U.K. at least two weeks before their arrival.

The approved vaccines are Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Janssen.

The travel restrictions will be eased come Oct. 4th, 2021.

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In India, the main vaccine being administered to citizens is AstraZeneca, however, it is manufactured locally by the Serum Institute of India under the name Covishield and has been approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization.

Reacting to the exemption of India from the U.K. list of countries not required to be quarantined, India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla said,

“The basic issue is that there is a vaccine, Covishield, which is a licensed product of a U.K. company, manufactured in India. We have supplied 5 million doses to the U.K., at the request of the government of the U.K. We understand that this has been used in their national health system.”

“Therefore, non-recognition of Covishield is a discriminatory policy and does impact on those of our citizens traveling to the U.K.,” he added.

According to the U.K government, Indian travelers will still be required to quarantine after arriving in England and will be mandated to undergo three rounds of testing, regardless of their vaccination status.

According to Shringla, India’s External Affairs Minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, has raised the issue “strongly” with the U.K. Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss, according to Shringla.