Covid live: Matt Hancock says ‘high degree of confidence’ vaccines work against Indian variant, but urges caution | World news

MP says Covid inquiry must examine UK’s delay in adding India to ‘red list’

A public inquiry must examine whether Boris Johnson’s decision to delay adding India to the travel “red list” of countries was influenced by his desire to start trade talks with Delhi, the chair of a cross-party Covid inquiry group has said.

It came as Downing Street and the health secretary, Matt Hancock, denied politics was involved in the decision to wait 17 days before putting India on the list of countries requiring mandatory hotel quarantine, after Bangladesh and Pakistan were added despite having significantly lower Covid case rates.

Johnson was scheduled to visit India in his first major trip as prime minister between 25-28 April, which had already been rescheduled from late January when the UK’s own infection rate was soaring.

Downing Street is understood to have been keen to make a political statement that India should be the first nation for Boris Johnson to visit, as a way of brokering a new post-Brexit trading relationship.

Concern has mounted over increased cases of the B.1.617.2 variant first detected in India, particularly in the north-west and parts of London, which could affect the future easing of lockdown restrictions. The variant has three detected mutations.

A pandemic hidden market advertising fake vaccine and test certificates for as little as £25 has grown exponentially, with more than 1,200 vendors in the UK and worldwide, researchers have found.

After UK ministers announced the return of overseas holidays – with travellers required to show proof of negative tests, and vaccine passports on the horizon – the Guardian has also learned that anti-vaxxers and people arriving in Britain from poorer nations make up a significant number of those buying forged pandemic paraphernalia.

Last month MPs were told that more than 100 people a day are trying to enter the UK using fake Covid test certificates as individuals attempt to get around current entry requirements, which include tests before and after travel and can cost hundreds of pounds a person.


This week’s surprise reversal of mask-wearing guidance for those vaccinated against Covid-19 was a “foundational first step” towards returning the US to normal, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) insisted on Sunday, as the agency continued to draw criticism for the sudden and confusing advice.

Dr Rochelle Walensky appeared on several Sunday talk shows to stress it was up to individuals whether to follow the guidance issued on Thursday.

“This was not permission to shed masks for everybody, everywhere. This was really [a] science-driven individual assessment of your risk,” Walensky told NBC’s Meet the Press.

“We are asking people to be honest with themselves. If they are vaccinated and they are not wearing a mask, they are safe. If they are not vaccinated and they are not wearing a mask, they are not safe.”



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