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India added to UK coronavirus 'red list' for travel

Amid concerns over a new coronavirus variant, the UK added India to its travel "red list," the health secretary announced on Monday. Starting at 4 am on Friday, non-UK and Irish citizens who have been in India in the previous 10 days will be banned from entering the UK. British and Irish citizens will have to quarantine for 10 days on arrival, Matt Hancock told parliament.

The decision was made due to the new Indian variant of coronavirus. A total of 182 cases of the variant have been found in the UK, including 162 in the last five weeks.

Hancock told lawmakers in the House of Commons: "We've been analyzing samples from these cases to see if this variant has any concerning characteristics -- like greater transmissibility or resistance to treatments and vaccines -- meaning it has to be treated as a variant of concern.

"After studying the data and on a precautionary basis, we've made the difficult but vital decision to add India to the red list."

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth backed the decision, saying: "I'm immensely proud of our deep ties and bonds to India, but we must always be vigilant, be driven by data and have zero tolerance for variants that could set us back."

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Boris Johnson canceled a planned trip to India.

Other countries on the UK's "red list" include South America and large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Both Pakistan and Bangladesh were added to the list earlier in the month.

Government data released on Monday showed that there were 2,963 new cases of COVID-19 across the UK over the past 24 hours, pushing the total since the start of the pandemic beyond 4.39 million. There were also four additional deaths, bringing the total to 127,274.

Across the UK, some 32.9 million people have received their first doses of vaccines, and 10.1 million their second doses.

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