Over 100 Planes Have Arrived In UK from India Since Coronavirus Travel Ban

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: An airplane comes in to land at Heathrow Airport as the sun sets on February 03, 2021 in London, England . (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Over 100 planes from India have landed in Britain following the country being placed on the United Kingdom’s list of travel prohibited countries over concerns about the Indian variant of the coronavirus.

Analysis conducted on flight data in Britain shows that there have been 110 direct flights from India to Britain over the past three and a half weeks. While other countries placed on the so-called ‘Red List’ have seen British-bound flights banned, India has notably skirted this crackdown.

According to LBC, an average of 4.5 flights have arrived from India per day since the designation was imposed, despite government officials claiming that the Indian variant of the virus may result in lockdown restrictions on Britons continuing beyond Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s planned reopening date of June 21st.

Data from the government’s NHS Test and Trace system reveals that between April 22nd and the 5th of May, 4,258 travellers from India were tested for the virus. During the two-week period, seven per cent of those entering the country tested positive for the coronavirus, 46 per cent of whom tested positive for a “Variant of Concern” or a “Variant Under Investigation”.

The British government has prohibited direct flights from 11 other countries on the red list, including South Africa and Brazil, but has so far refused to impose the same restrictions on India, or indeed on the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Though international travellers from Red List countries are required to quarantine in a hotel for at least ten days, there are concerns that they may still spread the virus while in crowded areas of the United Kingdom’s airports.

Stunningly, people arriving from countries deemed low-risk are entering the country through the same airport terminals as those from high-risk countries, such as India.

Responding to the revelations, the Labour Party’s Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds told LBC: “The mess over the banned flights and the Red List is yet more evidence of the utter mess that the Conservatives have made of protecting our borders against Covid, while the scenes of people from Red List countries having to mix at airports is deeply worrying.”

“UK government mistakes have risked letting variants in, putting our hope for freedoms at risk,” he added.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We have adapted and bolstered our world leading test and quarantine systems for incoming passengers since the start of the pandemic, and will continue to closely monitor direct flights from a small number of Red List countries to see if a blanket ban would be necessary and proportionate.

“Public safety always comes first, however, we need to also consider other factors, such as critical freight and helping British nationals return home safely.”

A separate analysis conducted by the Sunday Times of figures from the Civil Aviation Authority also revealed that in the three weeks leading up to the government finally placing India on the Red List, at least 20,000 travellers arrived in the country, despite concerns over coronavirus variants in South Asia.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that “at the moment” he has not seen anything “conclusive to say that we need to deviate from the roadmap”, adding that the situation is currently “under close review” and that “we’ll know a lot more in a few days’ time”.

At a Downing Street briefing last Friday, the Prime Minister said that the Indian variant could “pose a serious disruption to our progress” and that it may result in him changing his mind on his so-called “irreversible” roadmap to freedom.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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