British PM Boris Johnson cancels India trip due to current covid situation

Alonzo Simpson
April 20, 2021

"The Silk Road has been the world's most important trade route for millennia, and all the forecasts point to it only becoming more important as emerging economies, particularly India, grow exponentially".

Variant What is B.1.617? India is the second-largest investor in the United Kingdom, after the US.

Vaccines Will the variant render vaccines less effective?

Viruses constantly change through mutation, and the emergence of new variants of coronavirus is a natural part of this process.

What is happening in India?

India is now reeling under the second COVID-19 wave, with more than 200,000 new cases being registered each day recently and the national tally feared to cross the 15-million mark early next week.

There were more than 280,000 new infections on Sunday, almost triple the previous high seen in September.

The U.K.'s decision follows similar action by Hong Kong, which banned flights from India for 14 days from April 20 after dozens of passengers from New Delhi tested positive for Covid-19 in Hong Kong, the Press Trust of India reported Saturday.

However, experts have warned that despite progress in vaccine rollout, Britain is "still not out of the woods" amid concerns over new variants, particularly those first emerged in South Africa, Brazil and India, and the third wave of pandemic on the European continent.

The situation in India has deteriorated with an extremely rapid rise in cases detected throughout April, which is accelerating.

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Is the Indian variant more transmissible and will vaccines still work against it? "Such [double] mutations confer immune escape and increased infectivity", said the health ministry.

She continued: "This is quite worrying, it builds a really concerning picture as it ticks all the boxes for rising cases and outcompeting the vaccine".

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC television, Susan Hopkins of Public Health England (PHE) said: "We have not got enough data about this variant yet to be able to clarify whether it's a variant of concern".

But India, which had both, was not added for another two weeks.

Boris, his first major bilateral foreign visit since taking power in 2019, scheduled to take place next week, due to the current coronavirus situation in India, Johnson's office said.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth welcomed the decision to red-list India.

Are scientists anxious about the situation in India?

He added: "India is a country I know well and love".

It is doubling every week, as did the Kent variant when it was detected in September, but is doing so under "much tighter restrictions and more vaxxed people", she said.

However, the spread of a Covid variant in India had led some to suggest the trip should not go ahead. "Between our two countries we have ties of friendship and family".

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