Despite lobbying from MP’s Pakistan and Bangladesh remain on the red list following the latest Government update on Thursday.
Travellers to these destinations will have to wait for a further three weeks, as the next update is not due until after 16 September, with further days for it to come into effect.
Britons returning from Pakistan must quarantine for 10 days in a government approved hotel, at a cost of up to £2,285 per person.
Earlier this month for the first time since the UK’s hotel quarantine policy was introduced in February, four red-listed countries were promoted to amber. India, which neighbours Pakistan, was among them, and the two currently have similar data on cases and vaccination rates.
Bradford East MP, Imran Hussain lashed out at the recent announcement, which affects many of his constituents. He said: “The Government’s decision to keep Pakistan and Bangladesh on the travel red list, despite a fall in cases, is devastating for many families, and once more shows that Ministers are making decisions based not on the data or on science, but on purely political grounds.
“Ministers simply cannot keep carrying on ignoring the evidence that is right in front of them. Instead, they need to review and overhaul their entire decision-making process to ensure that it is fit for purpose, and I will be continuing to press them in Parliament to stop playing politics with people’s lives.”
The Pakistan High Commission also issued a statement on Twitter sharing their disappointment: “Disappointed with decision to retain Pakistan on Red List. Entails continuing hardship for thousands of Pakistanis and British Pakistanis. Had shared all relevant data. Question mark over equity and consistency of criteria being employed!”
So how does the Government decide the traffic lights?
While it’s not clear on what the exact numbers that qualify a country for red, amber, or green status are, we do know that the Government uses the following criteria to decide the traffic lights.
- The percentage of a country’s population that have been vaccinated
- The rate of infection
- The prevalence of variants of concern
- The country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing
So based on criteria’s 1 and 2, which is readily available, while details for criteria’s 2 and 3 are not, here is how the data is looking for Pakistan and Bangladesh
Pakistan’s current seven-day case rate (as of August 26) is 23 per 100,000 citizens, which is low, and still dropping. Bangladesh’s current seven-day case rate is 21 per 100,000, with cases continuing to come down. By way of comparison, the UK is at 355 per 100,000 and rising.
However, the country’s vaccine figures are also of great importance. Pakistan has now double-jabbed only 10 per cent of its population, with 27 per cent administered their first dose. While, Bangladesh has vaccinated around 7.4 per cent of its population
India, however, isn’t far ahead of Pakistan on its vaccine drive with just 11 per cent of citizens who have had both doses, and that was enough for the nation to come off the red list.
While countries such as Australia and New Zealand have set targets for the end of their hotel quarantine policies, the UK is yet to do the same and announce when would be a ‘safe’ time to follow.
There is a chance that the red list will be scrapped altogether, but the UK Government has given no hint about when and how its strict hotel quarantine policy might end.
In the meantime, because Pakistan and Bangladesh are on the red list, travellers are required to take a test within 72 hours of their arrival in the UK. It is also compulsory to fill out a passenger locator form to present to your airline and at the border. Once back in the UK arrivals must enter a quarantine hotel for 10 days, costing up to £2,285 per person, as well as paying for two tests during their stay.