British PM Johnson cancels visit to India, will hold virtual meet (ld)

India has been added to the coronavirus 'red list'

Earlier, when asked if India would be added to the travel red list, Johnson said that was "very much a matter for the independent UK Health Security Agency they will have to take that decision".

- What determines which countries are added?

It has sparked concerns among academics and sections of the United Kingdom media, who have called for India to be added to the "red list", which involves stricter travel restrictions with a compulsory 10-day hotel quarantine for anyone returning to the United Kingdom from such countries. Over the weekend, UK Opposition Labour Party joined calls for him to conduct the discussions remotely via Zoom and cancel the physical visit, which had already been shortened to focus on a day-long packed schedule on Monday, April 26.

The University of Oxford's "human challenge" trial also hopes to discover what dose of coronavirus is needed to cause a reinfection, and what this may mean for developing protective immunity against the disease.

Figures from Our World In Data, based at the University of Oxford, show there were almost 225,000 confirmed new cases in India on Sunday, compared with around 170,000 across Europe. The variant - officially named B.1.617 - is believed to driving the spike in India's cases and 77 cases have been reported in the UK, Sky News reported.

Work was being carried out to assess which vaccines will be effective in targeting "variants of concern", such as the one first found in South Africa. "These two escape mutations working together could be a lot more problematic than the South African and Brazilian variants who have only got one escape mutation", he said.

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According to Our World In Data, there were 219,155 new coronavirus cases in India on Sunday, compared to 171,319 in the whole of Europe on the same day.

Johnson said it was "only sensible" to postpone the trip, given "the shape of the pandemic there".

British nationals now in the countries on the red list should make use of the commercial options available if they wish to return to England.

The variant was only confirmed on 25 March by the Indian government so the data are still not 100% clear on its effects when compared to existing forms of the virus.

Why were Pakistan and Bangladesh put on the red list before India? .

"Hong Kong this week have identified 47 COVID cases just on a single Delhi flight and we have still 16 more direct flights, many more indirect flights from India to here before Friday alone", she said.

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