New Delhi: India on Tuesday took strong exception to UK’s latest travel norms, under which those vaccinated in India will be considered ‘unvaccinated’, saying the “non-recognition” of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield was a “discriminating policy”. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said it is within the country’s “right to take reciprocal action” if the issue affecting several Indian citizens was not resolved promptly.
“Have raised the discriminatory nature of UK vaccine recognition for AstraZeneca but not Covishield. Discussions on, but if they do not satisfy us, we would be well within our rights to take reciprocal action,” Shringla said.
“The non-recogition 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,” said Shringla.
As per the new travel rules in the UK, people from India, Africa, South America and several other countries flying to the UK have to go through a 10-day quarantine, during which period they will have to get tested for COVID-19.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who met his British counterpart Liz Truss in New York on the sidelines of the 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), urged UK for an 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,” said Jaishankar.
From October 4, the current “traffic light system” of red, amber, green countries based on levels of COVID-19 risk will be replaced by one red list of countries. The scrapping of the amber list, which is what India is currently on, means a reduced PCR test cost burden only for some travellers.
The expanded list of countries whose vaccines are recognised in the UK does not include India. It means Indians vaccinated with Covishield, the SII-produced Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, would be required to undergo compulsory PCR tests as well as self-isolation.
The UK has said it is engaging with India to explore how it could expand the recognition of the COVID-19 vaccine certification issued by Indian authorities amid criticism of the new British travel rules. A British High Commission spokesperson in New Delhi has said the UK is engaged with India on the issue and is committed to opening up international travel again “as soon as is practicable”
Meanwhile, the United States has allowed fully vaccinated flyers from several countries, including India, to enter America from early November. The US announced that strict protocols will be in place from early November to curb the spread of COVID-19 from international passengers. According to a senior government official, once the protocol is in place, passengers from several countries, including the UK, India and Brazil and Europe would be allowed to enter the US with proof of vaccination.
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