India criticizes new UK travel rules; Jaishankar raises issue
India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has pushed for a resolution of the COVID-19 quarantine issue faced by Indians in the United Kingdom. He raised the issue during his meeting with UK Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss on Tuesday in New York. The UK has announced new COVID-19-related travel rules, requiring even fully vaccinated Indians to quarantine upon arrival.
"Pleased to meet new UK Foreign Secretary @trussliz. Discussed the progress of Roadmap 2030. Appreciated her contribution on the trade side...Urged early resolution of quarantine issue in mutual interest," Jaishankar tweeted on Tuesday.
According to the new rules released by UK, Indian travelers who have received both the doses of the Covishield vaccine will still be considered unvaccinated, meaning they will have to undergo more frequent testing and a mandatory 10-day quarantine period. Covishield was developed in the UK by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, and is already approved there under a different name.
The fresh rules have triggered concerns and criticism in India. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh called the move "absolutely bizarre," adding "this smacks of racism." Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor said he has canceled some of his events in the UK over these rules. "It is offensive to ask fully vaccinated Indians to quarantine. The Brits are reviewing!" he tweeted.
A British High Commission spokesperson in Delhi has said the UK is communicating with the Indian government to resolve the issue. "We are engaging with the Government of India to explore how we could expand the UK recognition of vaccine certification to people vaccinated by a relevant public health body in India," the official said, according to PTI.
Government sources told The Indian Express they are following the reciprocity principle. They said a note has been sent to the UK Embassy, warning that UK citizens will also be asked to quarantine for 10 days if the said rule is kept.