COVID-19: UK ‘looking Into’ Removing Pakistan From Travel Red List, Country’s High Commissioner Says

COVID-19: UK ‘looking Into’ Removing Pakistan From Travel Red List, Country’s High Commissioner Says

Pakistan’s top diplomat in the UK has said Boris Johnson assured him the government is “looking into” the prospect of removing the South Asian country from the travel red list.

Moazzam Ahmad Khan, Pakistan’s high commissioner to the UK, said he had raised concerns directly with the prime minister when they met at Sandhurst military academy on Friday.

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Pakistan has been on the COVID-19 red list since April, meaning almost all travel from the country to the UK is banned.

British and Irish nationals and those who have residence rights in the UK can return, but must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 11 days at a cost of more than £2,000.

Pakistan was kept on the red list when the last travel review was carried out earlier this month, but neighbouring India was moved back to the amber category.

This has sparked criticism of the travel system, with a number of MPs calling for an explanation from the government.

Mr Khan said he had raised the matter with the PM last week, in a bid to get Pakistan removed from the red list when the travel rules are next reviewed on 26 August.

“We feel the system they [British authorities] have adopted to assess Pakistan does not present an accurate picture of our COVID-19 situation, and this needs to be corrected,” he said, in quotes carried by the Dawn newspaper.

“This is not criticism, but it is important to share our point of view. There is no communication gap, we are constantly in touch with them.

“In fact, I had an opportunity to speak to Prime Minister Johnson and brought it to his attention that keeping Pakistan on the red list has left both people in Pakistan and the diaspora frustrated and disappointed.

“He said ‘we are looking into it’.”

Image: Boris Johnson at Sandhurst on Friday, when he met with Moazzam Ahmad Khan Latest international COVID data

Interactive ‘traffic light’ map and coronavirus information from around the world

The high commissioner said authorities in the UK had expressed concerns about a lack of genomic surveillance of new COVID variants in Pakistan and low levels of testing.

But Mr Khan said Islamabad’s view was that the UK was not looking at the whole picture.

“We feel when assessing Pakistan’s situation, all elements were not considered,” he said.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Our international travel policy is guided by one overwhelming priority – public health – and traffic light allocations are based on a range of factors including genomic surveillance capability, transmission risk and variants of concern.”

 

Is Pakistan Going To Stay On UK’s Red List?

PAKISTAN was added to the UK’s red list back in April 2021 while the country was seeing a surge in coronavirus cases.

But when will it be removed from the list? Here’s all you need to know.

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Pakistan has been on the red list since AprilCredit: Alamy Can I travel to Pakistan?

Since May, the number of flights to and from Pakistan has been restricted.

Before you travel to England you must take a Covid-19 test three days before departure, book a quarantine hotel package, including two more tests and complete a passenger locator form when you arrive.

Under current rules, holidaymakers have to quarantine for ten days on their return to Britain — even if they are double jabbed.

Double jabbed Brits and under 18s have been allowed to avoid self-isolation on return from amber list countries since July 19.

Is Pakistan staying on the red list?

Pakistan’s top diplomat in the UK has said Boris Johnson assured him the government is “looking into” the prospect of removing the South Asian country from the travel red list.

Moazzam Ahmad Khan, Pakistan’s high commissioner to the UK, said he had raised concerns directly with the prime minister when they met at Sandhurst military academy on Friday.

Pakistan has been on the red list since April, meaning almost all travel from the country to the UK is banned.

British and Irish nationals and those who have residence rights in the UK can return, but must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 11 days at a cost of more than £2,000.

Pakistan was kept on the red list when the last travel review was carried out earlier this month, but neighbouring India was moved back to the amber category.

This has sparked criticism of the travel system, with a number of MPs calling for an explanation from the government.

Mr Khan said he had raised the matter with the PM last week, in a bid to get Pakistan removed from the red list when the travel rules are next reviewed on 26 August.

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Despite the fact that cases in Pakistan have been rising over the summer – the numbers are still relatively lowCredit: EPA What are the current restrictions in Pakistan?

Pakistan is still under coronavirus restrictions.

There is currently a ban on indoor and outdoor dining in Islamabad Capital Territory and parts of Punjab province

Facemasks are still mandatory in public and not wearing one is punishable by a fine.

Public transport has restarted across Pakistan with some restrictions.

Worringly for travellers there is a risk that the healthcare system will come under significant strain as the number of Covif-19 cases increases.

This means access to routine and emergency healthcare may be limited.

Pakistan PM Imran Khan receives Covid vaccine

Why Is Pakistan Still On The Red List? What Travellers Need To Know

Another travel announcement was revealed yesterday which saw many countries added to the green list.

The Azores, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania and Switzerland will move from amber to green from 4am on August 30.

Meanwhile, Thailand and Montenegro are being downgraded from amber to the red list, meaning only British residents and nationals will be allowed into the UK from those destinations.

READ MORE Dad mortified by four-year-old son’s note to restaurant staff on on bill

Rumours had suggested that Pakistan would be added to the amber list after outrage from the last update which saw India move to the red list and not Pakistan.

But people were once again disappointed to find it was still on the red list following the announcement.

So why has Pakistan stayed on the red list and will it move to the amber list before the next update? Here’s everything that we know so far.

Why is Pakistan still on the red list?

According to the Times, Pakistan’s current seven-day case rate (as of August 26) is 23 per 100,000 citizen. By way of comparison, the UK is at 355 per 100,000 and rising.

However, the country’s vaccine figures are also of great importance. Pakistan has now double-jabbed only 10 per cent of its population, with 27 per cent administered their first dose.

India, however, isn’t far ahead of Pakistan on its vaccine drive; just 11 per cent of citizens have had both doses, and that was enough for the nation to come off the red list.

Pakistan has been on the borderline for being removed from the red list for some time.

MP Robert Courts, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, revealed that the decision was to “reduce the risk of new strains of Covid-19 being imported into the UK.”

He said: “I recognise the impact that the decision for Pakistan to remain on the red list will have on individuals, however, it is right that the government does all it can to reduce the risk of new strains of Covid-19 being imported into the UK.”

“Variants of concern are detected through wider surveillance mechanisms such as genomic surveillance, but capability and capacity for this is limited in Pakistan”.

“UK data shows that a relatively high number of travellers were arriving in the UK from Pakistan weekly, of them, there was a relatively high rate of people testing positive for Covid-19, including people testing positive for a variant of concern.

“To consider removing Pakistan from the red list, ministers would need to be satisfied that the risk of variants of concern being imported into the UK has been significantly reduced”.

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