India imposes retaliatory COVID restrictions on British nationals

The move comes after New Delhi called the British decision not to recognise Indian vaccine, Covishield, ‘discriminatory’.

India has accused Britain of 'discriminatory' measures against fully vaccinated Indian travellers [File: Daniel Leal-Olivas/ AFP via Getty Images]

Fully vaccinated British nationals arriving in India will be subjected to a 10-day mandatory quarantine, in response to similar measures imposed on Indian nationals.

The move comes after India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla called Britain’s decision not to recognise the Indian version of the AstraZeneca vaccine, known as Covishield, “discriminatory”. He had warned of reciprocal measures should London fail to reconsider.

Starting on Monday, all British arrivals – irrespective of their vaccination status – will have to present a negative COVID-19 test taken a maximum of 72 hours prior to departure, undergo a second test on arrival and a third eight days later.

A mandatory quarantine period of 10 days will also be enforced, according to a foreign ministry official who spoke to The Associated Press news agency.

The British government announced last month it would allow fully vaccinated travellers to skip quarantine and take fewer tests, but only recognised vaccination under the American, British or European programmes or those authorised by an approved health body.

More than a dozen countries in Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East made it to the list, but India’s programme was not included. Similarly, no programme in the African continent was accepted.

The vast majority of Indians have been vaccinated with Indian-made AstraZeneca shots, which 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, announced earlier this week that it would resume donations of surplus coronavirus vaccines after it froze exports due to a surge in domestic infections.

Britain’s refusal to accept certain vaccine certificates has led to concerns that it could exacerbate vaccine hesitancy.

Countries that received hundreds of thousands of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the British government were left wondering why their vaccination programmes were not good enough in the eyes of its provider.

Britain is one of the worst performers in the COVAX programme, through which industrialised countries reallocate vaccines to poorer countries.

Rob Yates, director of the global health programme at the Chatham House think-tank in London, told AP that Britain’s policy was “indicative of the lack of solidarity that has been shown by governments and by politicians″.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re seeing tit-for-tat. In terms of humanity and for us all this is what we want to be avoiding,” Yates said.” We want much more cooperation.″

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies