Amid strong criticism and backlash, India on Tuesday, 21 September, termed the UK's new international travel policy, which considers vaccinated persons from India as 'unvaccinated', "discriminatory".
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, as quoted by ANI, said: "The non-recognition of Covishield is a discriminating policy and impacts our citizens travelling to the UK. The EAM has raised the issue strongly with the new UK foreign secretary. I am told that certain assurances have been given that this issue will be resolved."
The statement by Shringla comes as Foreign Minister S Jaishankar met UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on the on the sidelines of the 76th UN General Assembly and "urged early resolution of quarantine issue in mutual interest."
Pleased to meet new UK Foreign Secretary @trussliz.
Discussed the progress of Roadmap 2030. Appreciated her contribution on the trade side.
Exchanged views on developments in Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific.
Urged early resolution of quarantine issue in mutual interest. pic.twitter.com/pc49NS7zcw
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) September 21, 2021
The new UK travel rules state that if a person has been vaccinated in Africa, or South America, or countries including UAE, India, Turkey, Jordan, Thailand, Russia, and others, they will be considered unvaccinated, and will have to follow rules for unvaccinated people – 10 day self-isolation and RT-PCR tests.
'Engaged With India To Expand Recognition': UK
The UK on Monday, 20 September had said it is engaging with India to explore how it could expand the recognition of the COVID-19 vaccine certification.
British High Commission spokesperson said, "The UK is committed to opening up international travel again as soon as is practicable and this announcement is a further step to enable people to travel more freely again, in a safe and sustainable way, while protecting public health”, news agency PTI reported.
UK's Traffic Light System to Change
Meanwhile, the "traffic light system" in the UK of red, amber, green countries based on levels of COVID-19 risk will now be replaced with by one red list of countries, PTI reported.
Neither Covaxin nor Covishield have been recognised by the UK. Which means Indians vaccinated with Covishield, the SII-produced Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, would be be considered unvaccinated and required to undergo compulsory PCR tests as well as self-isolation.
A person familiar with the development was quoted as saying, "The UK will continue to review the scientific evidence on other vaccines and keep the health measures under regular review", PTI reported.
Moreover, Indian travellers do not need to be vaccinated to travel to the UK, as visa applications from for all categories continue to be processed.
However, regardless of an Indian national's vaccination status, the person travelling from India to the UK must take a pre-departure test and a COVID-19 test on or before day two of the visit, and on or after day eight, and self-isolate for 10 days.
Criticism by Tharoor, Jairam Ramesh
Meanwhile, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor withdrew from a book launch function after the UK government changed the rules, finding it offensive “to ask fully vaccinated Indians to quarantine.”
Further, commenting on the UK travel policy, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh had said in a tweet, "Absolutely bizarre considering Covishield was originally developed in the UK and The Serum Institute, Pune has supplied to that country too! This smacks of racism."
(With inputs from PTI)
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