India has said that British nationals arriving in the country will be subjected to Covid-19 tests and a 10-day mandatory quarantine, in response to the same measures imposed on Indians visiting the UK.
India has been demanding that Britain revoke what it called a “discriminatory” policy that includes Indians even if they are fully vaccinated with the Indian-made AstraZeneca vaccine.
India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar discussed the issue with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in a meeting in New York earlier this week.
A foreign ministry official said that starting on Monday, all British arrivals, irrespective of their vaccination status, will have to undertake RT-PRC test within 72 hours before travel, another test on arrival in India and the third one eight days later.
They will also have to quarantine at home or at their destination address for 10 days, said the official.
The trouble started when the Government announced what it billed as a simplification of its travel rules including allowing fully vaccinated travellers arriving in England from much of the world to avoid quarantine and take fewer tests.
But the fine print on who was considered fully vaccinated proved complicated. In order to avoid self-isolation, travellers must have received a vaccine under the British, American or European programmes or have received a UK-authorised shot from an approved health body.
Bodies in more than a dozen countries in Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East made it to the list, However, India’s programme was not included, nor were any in Africa.
Countries that received hundreds of thousands of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the UK were left wondering why their vaccination programmes weren’t good enough in the eyes of the Government.
That is leading to concerns that the rules could exacerbate already worrying vaccine hesitancy in Africa as some question whether the doses available there don’t measure up.
The vast majority of Indians have been vaccinated with the Indian-made AstraZeneca shots.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been produced by Serum Institute of India. Others have received Covaxin, a vaccine produced by an Indian company that is not used in Britain.
India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, said earlier this week that it will resume exports and donations of surplus coronavirus vaccines in October after a months-long freeze because of the massive surge in domestic infections.