Hundreds of Indian students and families of Indian descent in the UK have been sent into a mode of confusion and panic with India being added to Britain’s COVID-19 travel “red list”, which imposes a ban on access to the a country for everyone except Britain. or Irish residents.
The red list status, effective at 4 am local time on Friday, came amid a spike in coronary virus infections in India that also led to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson canceling his planned visit to New Delhi next week.
The ban means that those with valid residence rights returning to the UK after Friday’s deadline face the additional financial burden of compulsory hotel quarantine and experience costs, estimated at around 2,000 pounds per head.
“There is a great deal of confusion in the Indian community about the rules and what this means for them. Significant concern is being raised about the cost of quarantine as well as how the new restrictions affect students’ eligibility for the graduate visa route they need. To be in the country by certain dates, “said Sanam Arora, Chair of the National Indian and Alumni Union of UK (NISAU-UK), a representative group for Indian students in the UK.
“Students were supposed to travel for their final semester or indeed for new terms that started in May. We have written urgently to the Home Office to explain all these concerns and queries,” he said.
The biggest concern among students is that they receive their valid residence permits only on arrival in the UK, which casts doubt on their eligibility to enter the UK on a valid visa.
The Home Office had already extended the deadline for physical campus attendance requirements for students to apply for the new graduate or post-study visa later this year. However, many are now not only concerned about whether that extension will be sufficient but also the additional financial burden that the quarantine requirements add to their proposed costs.
“I was aware of the risks when I planned this trip but the hype and panic doesn’t help. It’s so stressful,” said one British Indian who had traveled to be with the family and who now finds himself stuck in the Delhi curfew.
India’s addition to the travel “red list” in the House of Commons was announced on Monday amid 103 reported cases in the UK of a new variant of coronavirus first detected in India. UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs the decision was made after studying the data and on a “precautionary basis”.
“That means that anyone who doesn’t live in the UK or Ireland or is a British citizen can come into the UK if they have been in India for the previous 10 days. Ireland and British citizens who have been to India in the previous 10 days will need to reach hotel quarantine for 10 days from arrival time, “said Hancock.
The Opposition Labor Party asked the minister for details on the transmissibility and vaccine response of the so-called Indian variant B.1.617.
“A new double mutation variant is reportedly more powerful, and dozens of cases have also been found here in the UK. To take on board the community’s concerns, will the Health Secretary explain that our vaccines are effective against this new variant, ”asked Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Labor.
Hancock responded: “We simply do not know that. We are acting on a precautionary basis.
“The core of my concern about the variation first discovered in India is that the vaccines may be less effective in transmission and in reducing hospitalization and death. We have the same concern as the variation first discovered in South Africa and it is the core reason why we took the [travel ban] a decision. “
Jonathan Ashworth, shadow health secretary and MP for Leicester – a city with a large Indian diaspora population, raised concerns about its constituents with links to the region who would need to return to their homes.
“Hopefully there will be support and assistance in place for constituents such as mine who are legal in India and want to return,” he said.
Meanwhile, scientists are divided over whether the Indian variant is more severe than some of the other variants.
“This variant has a couple of mutations that may cause concern but these are probably not as severe as some of the mutations present in the variants first seen in Kent, South Africa and Brazil,” said Dr Jeffrey Barrett, director of the COVID-19 genomics initiative at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in London.
(This story is not edited by NDTV staff and is generated automatically from syndicated feed.)