Michael Gove has rejected claims the Government delayed putting India on the red travel list to help secure a trade deal with the country. Speaking to BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker, the Cabinet Secretary dismissed the suggestion as “rubbish.” The Government has faced criticism for not placing India on the red list sooner as the spread of the Delta variant, which originated there, has been a major factor in delaying the relaxing of coronavirus restrictions.
The Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown had originally set June 21 as the earliest possible date for an end to all social distancing restrictions in England.
This has now been pushed back to July 19 following concerns that the spread of the Delta variant poses the risk of another outbreak, despite the success of the vaccination programme.
Michael Gove defended the timing of India being added to the red list to BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker, arguing that arrivals from the country already had to quarantine.
He said: “The decision to place India on the red list of course meant that visitors from India had to go into hotel quarantine.
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“But even before then, anyone coming from India had to immediately on arrival in this country, quarantine at home for 10 days.”
Dan Walker replied by saying: “But 20,000 people still came into the country in those few weeks.
“Of course, the accusation is that this was all linked to this potential trade deal with India, and the Prime Minister’s priority was a potential photo call rather than protecting the borders here.”
Mr Gove dismissed the claim as “Specious nonsense.”
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“So what can one say? People will throw all sorts of rubbish like that around and I think the thing is just to shrug one’s shoulders and look at the facts.”
The Delta variant now accounts for 90 percent of Covid cases in the UK, and is estimated to be 40 percent more transmissible than other forms of the virus.
However, new evidence shows that it is not more resistant to coronavirus vaccines.
A study released by Public Health England yesterday showed that after two doses, the Pfizer vaccine is 96 percent effective, while the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is 92 percent effective.