India has been added to the UK’s red list of travel destinations, with ten-day hotel quarantine restrictions to be introduced from 4am on Friday.
Anyone who is not a UK or Irish resident, or British citizen, cannot enter the UK if they have been in India in the previous ten days.
Confirming 103 cases of the India variant had now been detected, Hancock told the House of Commons: “The vast majority have links to international travel and have been picked up by our testing at the border.”
He added: “After studying the data, and on a precautionary basis, we’ve made the difficult but vital decision to add India to the red list.”
There will be 40 countries on the red list as of Friday.
Earlier in his update, Hancock said 557 cases of South Africa variant had been identified since it was first detected in December – and said two thirds of the cases are related to international travel, picked up by testing on arrivals after day two and day eight, as well as a “small amount” of community transmission.
Hancock said: “The biggest risk to our progress here in the UK is a new variant that the vaccine does not work as well against. We need updated vaccines to tackle mutated viruses.”
Hancock announced plans for a booster shot to “ensure our jabs stay ahead of the virus”.
“Until then we must remain vigilant in case a new variant renders the vaccines less protective – because new variants can jeopardise the progress that we’ve made here in the UK.”
He said the UK has “one of the best systems” to detect new variants through genomic sequencing.
Hancock has earlier told MPs: “This virus is diminished but not defeated. Cases, hospitalisations and deaths are back to the levels we saw in September.”
He confirmed 2,186 people are in hospital with Covid as of Monday April 19, with the average number of daily deaths per week at 25, and said “we are on track to meet the roadmap set out by the prime minister.”
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