The British Government has retained Pakistan on the ‘red list’ of its travel advisory due to the ‘deteriorating Covid situation’ in the country. UK senior health official JO Churchill, in a letter dated August 6 explained the reasons for keeping Pakistan on the red list of countries, reported The Express Tribune. She said that UK’s Joint Biosecurity Centre continues to assess risk based on factors including incidence, trends in deaths/hospitalisations, exported cases as well as testing and test positivity rates. Her response comes after Pakistan was retained in the red list of countries at the latest coronavirus travel update while India was removed from it, reported The Express Tribune.
The British government placed Pakistan and India on the red list on April 2 and 19, respectively. However, in an updated list, the government announced that India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE would be moved to the amber list from August 8.
“In Pakistan, the combination of a deteriorating epidemiological situation, combined with low testing rates and limited genomic surveillance, presents a high risk that an outbreak of a new variant, or existing VoC [variant of concern], will not be identified before it is imported to the UK,” she said in a letter.
The UK health official said the current trajectory of the pandemic in Pakistan is also of particular concern. “In the past seven days, the incidence of cases in Pakistan has increased by 87 per cent on the previous week (19 – 25 July). The incidence of deaths has increased by 75 per cent in that same period. Test positivity is high and rising, growing from 5.6 per cent on July 26 to 7.9 per cent on August 3,” read the letter.
Major cities like Karachi have reported positivity rates of up to 20 per cent, she added. The red list of the countries means only the UK nationals and those with residency rights will be allowed to travel to the country if they stayed in Pakistan for the ten days before they arrive. The amber travel list means that returnees can quarantine at home, rather than in a hotel.