Indians who are fully vaccinated with Covishield or any other UK-approved vaccine will not be quarantined when they arrive in Britain from October 11, the High Commissioner to India said on Thursday, ending a row over what was perceived as unfair imposition of COVId-19 quarantine rules.
"No quarantine for India travellers to United Kingdom fully vaccinated with Covishield or another UK-approved vaccine from 11 October. Thanks to Indian government for close cooperation over last month," British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis tweeted on Thursday.
No quarantine for Indian ???????? travellers to UK ???????? fully vaccinated with Covishield or another UK-approved vaccine from 11 October.— Alex Ellis (@AlexWEllis) October 7, 2021
Thanks to Indian government for close cooperation over last month. pic.twitter.com/cbI8Gqp0Qt
On October 1, in response to the UK quarantine rules for Indians and citizens of several nations, including those vaccinated with UK-approved Covishield, India had imposed mandatory 10-day quarantine for British citizens irrespective of vaccination status.
Described as discriminatory and even "colonialist", the UK government had faced intense backlash over its refusal to recognise visitors as vaccinated unless they received their shots in a handful of select countries.
"I'm also making changes so travellers visiting England have fewer entry requirements, by recognising those with fully-vax status from 37 new countries and territories including India, Turkey and Ghana, treating them the same as UK fully vax passengers," Britain's Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps tweeted.
"The decision was taken after close technical cooperation between our ministries taking public health factors into account," a British High Commission spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday.
The spokesperson said the UK keeps efficacy data and information on vaccine rollout internationally under review, and has kept visa rules under constant review throughout the pandemic to keep borders open whilst gradually and safely restarting travel.
If a person isn't fully vaccinated with one of the four UK-recognised vaccines - Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen - or any formulation of these vaccines, including Covishield, the person must take a pre-departure test, and must take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8, and self-isolate for 10 days.
India's Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla had called the UK rules "discriminatory" and warned that "reciprocal action" may be warranted.
British officials had told NDTV that the issue was not the vaccine itself but the issues with India's "vaccination certification" process and the two sides announced "progress" in recognising each other's certificates after high-level talks.
Dr RS Sharma, CEO of India's National Health Authority, said certification after coronavirus vaccinations in India is a centralised national system managed through the CoWIN app and portal and there are "no issues" with the platform which is entirely compliant with World Health Organisation standards.