Summary of recent developments
Saudi Arabia scraps quarantine requirement for vaccinated travellers
MP says Covid inquiry must examine UK’s delay in adding India to ‘red list’
A public inquiry must examine whether Boris Johnson’s decision to delay adding India to the travel “red list” of countries was influenced by his desire to start trade talks with Delhi, the chair of a cross-party Covid inquiry group has said.
It came as Downing Street and the health secretary, Matt Hancock, denied politics was involved in the decision to wait 17 days before putting India on the list of countries requiring mandatory hotel quarantine, after Bangladesh and Pakistan were added despite having significantly lower Covid case rates.
Johnson was scheduled to visit India in his first major trip as prime minister between 25-28 April, which had already been rescheduled from late January when the UK’s own infection rate was soaring.
Downing Street is understood to have been keen to make a political statement that India should be the first nation for Boris Johnson to visit, as a way of brokering a new post-Brexit trading relationship.
Concern has mounted over increased cases of the B.1.617.2 variant first detected in India, particularly in the north-west and parts of London, which could affect the future easing of lockdown restrictions. The variant has three detected mutations.
A pandemic hidden market advertising fake vaccine and test certificates for as little as £25 has grown exponentially, with more than 1,200 vendors in the UK and worldwide, researchers have found.
After UK ministers announced the return of overseas holidays – with travellers required to show proof of negative tests, and vaccine passports on the horizon – the Guardian has also learned that anti-vaxxers and people arriving in Britain from poorer nations make up a significant number of those buying forged pandemic paraphernalia.
Last month MPs were told that more than 100 people a day are trying to enter the UK using fake Covid test certificates as individuals attempt to get around current entry requirements, which include tests before and after travel and can cost hundreds of pounds a person.