On Tuesday, India reported a total of 259,170 new COVID cases and 1,761 deaths in the last 24 hours. As a result, the UK has added the country to its “red list,” meaning only UK and Irish passport holders can enter Britain from the country as of 23 April.
Up to 4,500 Brits are expected to return to the UK from India over the next three days after the country was added to a “red list” of nations from which most travel to Britain is banned, over fears of a new COVID variant, The Sun reported on Tuesday.
As of April 23, most people who have travelled from India to the UK in the last 10 days will be refused entry.
The exodus has sparked a surge in the cost of plane tickets, which have skyrocketed from around $550 to nearly $3,000 for the Delhi-London route.
People returning to the UK from India must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days.
Earlier this week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled his trip to India that was scheduled for 25 April. He was supposed to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss bilateral relations.
British health experts fear that that the double mutant Indian variant of COVID could be resistant to vaccines, and have criticised the UK government for not taking action against India earlier.
Along with the UK, the US has advised people against traveling to India, even if they’ve been vaccinated.
Meanwhile, amid surging COVID cases, India’s health care system is struggling to cope with shortages of ventilators, oxygen cylinders, and beds across the country.
Most regions in the country are under complete or partial lockdowns depending on the severity of the situation, with night curfews also imposed.
As part of its third phase of vaccination, the Indian government is making the jab available to people over the age of 18 as of 1 May.