Holidays in doubt as Portugal taken off green list

The decision to move Portugal – including Madeira and the Azores –  to the amber list follows increased concern in the spread of variants of coronavirus, including a mutation of the Delta variant, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

Britons’ hopes of a summer holiday abroad is hanging in the balance as no new countries have been added to the UK’s green travel list and Portugal has moved to amber.

The first update to the government’s traffic light list for international travel has taken place on Thursday with Portugal moved to the amber list in a bid to safeguard people against virus variants and protect vaccine rollout.

Meanwhile, seven countries – including Sri Lanka and Egypt – have also been added to the travel red list. All changes to the lists will come into effect at 4am on Tuesday 8 June.

The decision to move Portugal – including Madeira and the Azores –  to the amber list follows increased concern in the spread of variants of coronavirus, including a mutation of the Delta variant.

The government said situation in Portugal has required swift action to protect the gains made with the vaccine rollout. It said there has been an almost doubling in the COVID-19 test positivity rate in Portugal since the first review for traffic light allocations, far exceeding the ONS estimated national positivity rate in the UK.

More significantly, according to data published on GISAID, 68 cases of the Delta variant of concern have been identified in Portugal, including cases of the Delta variant with an additional, potentially detrimental, mutation, the government said.

“The public has always known travel will be different this year and we must continue to take a cautious approach to reopening international travel in a way that protects public health and the vaccine rollout,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

“While we are making great progress in the UK with the vaccine rollout, we continue to say that the public should not travel to destinations outside the green list,” he added.

Public Health England is investigating the Delta variant and mutation, to better understand whether it could be more transmissible and less effectively tackled by vaccines.

The full list of additional countries added to the ‘red list’ includes Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Trinidad and Tobago.

While the number of ‘green list’ destinations remains low, the government is urging the public not to travel to amber classified destinations to play their role in protecting public health. This is due to the prevalence of variants of concern and general rates of coronavirus being greater in amber destinations, meaning the risk to public health is also greater.

People returning to the UK require proof of a negative test, taken within 3 days before the service on which they will arrive in England departs. Those returning from amber countries must also book and pay for day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 travel tests for when they return to the UK; only the day 2 test is required for those returning from green countries.

Airport

UK on Tuesday reported zero daily coronavirus-related deaths for the first time since March last year.

Earlier, a scientist advising the government said the progress of Britain’s vaccination program does not mean that the fight against coronavirus is over.

Professor Adam Finn from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises the government on vaccine priority, said the country remains vulnerable as large numbers of people remain unvaccinated.

“The idea that somehow the job is done is wrong — we’ve still got a lot of people out there who have neither had this virus infection nor yet been immunized and that’s why we’re in a vulnerable position right now,” he told the BBC.

Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced Tuesday that the easing of restrictions will be delayed in much of Scotland, which will remain in Level Two restrictions amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus variant first detected in India.

Experts have warned that coronavirus may continue to evolve for years to come, and eventually it is likely current vaccines will fail to protect against transmission, infection, or even against disease caused by newer variants.

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