Many Covid patients are dying in hospital car parks, ITV News Senior Correspondent Paul Davies reports
Passengers on flights into the UK from India must now enter hotel quarantine as the country is officially added to the UK’s coronavirus travel red list.
As of 4am on Friday, people returning from India must quarantine in a Government-approved hotel for 10 days, while anyone who is not a UK or Irish resident or a British citizen will be banned from entering the country if they have been in India in the previous 10 days.
Four airlines asked for a total of eight extra flights to arrive at Heathrow before the 4am cut-off, however it is understood Heathrow declined the airlines’ requests to ensure existing pressures at the border were not exacerbated.
The restrictions come in response to mounting concern about the number of coronavirus cases in India and the emergence there of a variant of the virus.
The variant – also known as B.1.617 – was first noted internationally in October and first identified in the UK on February 22.
It has 13 mutations including two in the virus’ spike protein known as E494Q and L452R.
Public Health England (PHE) said on Thursday 55 cases of the Indian variant were found in the UK in the week to April 14.
Meanwhile, India has reported a global record of more than 314,000 new infections as a coronavirus surge sends more people into a fragile healthcare system critically short of hospital beds and oxygen.
The 314,835 infections added in the past 24 hours raised India’s total past 15.9 million cases since the pandemic began.
It is the second-highest total in the world, next to the United States. India has a population of nearly 1.4 billion people.
Fatalities rose by 2,104 in the past 24 hours, raising India’s overall death toll to 184,657, the health ministry said.
A large number of hospitals are reporting acute shortages of beds and medicine and are running on dangerously low levels of oxygen.
The New Delhi High Court ordered the government to divert oxygen from industrial use to hospitals to save people’s lives.
“You can’t have people die because there is no oxygen. Beg, borrow or steal, it is a national emergency,” the judges said, responding to a petition by a New Delhi hospital seeking the court’s intervention.
PHE experts are currently unsure whether any of the mutations mean the variant can be transmitted more easily, is more deadly or can evade the effectiveness of vaccines or natural immunity.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to cancel a trip to India on Monday as the country struggles to cope with a dramatic surge in cases.
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