India added to UK's travel 'red list' amid concerns about Covid variant

Boris Johnson cancels India trip amid COVID surge

Boris Johnsons India visit cancelled as coronavirus cases increase

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was earlier forced to cancel his long-planned trip to India, planned for next week, citing the "current coronavirus situation" there.

While Johnson's predecessor, former Prime Minister David Cameron, pursued a strategy of increased trade ties with both India and China, relations with Beijing have soured in recent months - placing diplomacy with New Delhi at the heart of Britain's plans.

Johnson will instead speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month to launch their plans for the future UK-India partnership, with their physical meeting expected later in the year.

Johnson said the U.K.'s independent Health Security Agency would decide whether to place India on the red list.

He confirmed 2,186 people are in hospital with Covid as of Monday April 19, with the average number of daily deaths per week at 25, and said "we are on track to meet the roadmap set out by the prime minister".

Now, surging infections in India - where officials have recorded five consecutive days of more than 200,000 cases - have led to its entire cancellation.

Johnson was scheduled to visit India from April 25 on his first major visit to a non-European country since the re-election of the Conservative government in the United Kingdom general elections held in December 2019.

It comes just days before Boris Johnson is due to visit the country as part of his post-Brexit trade drive.

He said that samples of that variant have been analysed to see if the new variant has any "concerning characteristics", such as greater transmissibility or resistance to treatments and vaccines.

Dozens of cases of the variant have been identified in the UK. India has the fourth-highest number of deaths after the U.S., Brazil and Mexico - though, with almost 1.4 billion people, it has a much larger population than any of those countries.

With 1,619 deaths, the toll rose to 1,78,769.

He said: "I do think it's only sensible to postpone given what's happened in India, the shape of the pandemic there". "When it becomes a variant of concern, I'd be quite surprised if India wasn't on the red list".

India has been added to England's red list to protect the country against a new variant of coronavirus (COVID-19) and against other existing variants.

The British government has said the Indian variant is a "variant under investigation", not a "variant of concern", due to a lack of evidence, so surge testing or forensic contact tracing are not taking place.

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