Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 21
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has urged the new UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss for an early resolution of the quarantine issue in “mutual interest” even as Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla described London’s recent decision not to recognise Covishield as “discriminatory” and hinted at reciprocal action if amends were not made.
Jaishankar flagged the new British rules to Truss during a meeting in New York.
The new rules stipulate self-isolation for 10 days for in-coming Indian travellers vaccinated with Covishield. India’s other vaccine, Covaxin, is not in the contention at all since it is yet to be recognised by the WHO.
“Have raised the discriminatory nature of UK vaccine recognition for AstraZeneca but not Covishield. Discussions on, but if they do not satisfy us, we would be well within our rights to take reciprocal action,” observed Shringla.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said he had cancelled a visit to Britain as it is “offensive to ask fully vaccinated Indians to quarantine”.
“The non-recognition of Covishield is a discriminating policy and impacts our citizens travelling to the UK. The EAM has raised the issue strongly with the new UK foreign secretary,” said Shringla at a press conference on Wednesday.
“I am told that certain assurances have been given that this issue would be resolved,” he added while a British High Commission spokesperson here said it is engaged with the Indian Government on expanding UK recognition of vaccine certification issued by a “relevant public health body in India”.
The basic issue, said Shringla, is that Covishield is a licensed product of a UK company manufactured in India. Moreover, India supplied 50 lakh doses of this very vaccine to the UK at the request of its government.
What do new restrictions mean to Indian travellers
According to new rules, Indian travellers who have received both doses of the Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) will be considered unvaccinated and will have to undergo self-isolation for 10 days.
From October 4, the current "traffic light system" of red, amber, green countries based on levels of Covid risk will be replaced by one red list of countries.
The scrapping of the amber list, which is what India is currently on, means a reduced PCR test cost burden only for some travellers.
The expanded list of countries whose vaccines are recognised in the UK does not include India.
It means Indians vaccinated with Covishield, the SII-produced Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, would be required to undergo compulsory PCR tests as well as self-isolation. With PTI
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