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Pakistan off UK red list after six months

Pakistan off UK red list after six months is a laudable achievement that reflects Pakistan's effective policy making against Covid-19 spread. Dominic Raab, UK foreign secretary had hinted when he came to Islamabad, that Pakistan will be removed from red list travel restrictions.

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Pakistan off UK red list along with eight countries and territories that will come off the red list from Weds 22 Sept at 4am.

Pakistan’s finally coming out of UK red list is a laudable achievement although this decision should have been made much earlier. Nonetheless, the efforts of the Pakistan’s government are indeed remarkable in mitigating the Covid-19 spread through effective policy making that led to Pakistan off UK red list after six months.

Yesterday, the UK government said that it will announce its decision regarding Pakistan’s red travel list status. Data expert Tim White predicted that the chances of Pakistan and Turkey being removed from the UK red list are still fifty-fifty.

Dominic Raab wanted Pakistan off UK red list

Dominic Raab while addressing the press conference in Islamabad on 3rd September 2021 with Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that he wanted Pakistan removed from the Government’s red list for travel restrictions.

The foreign secretary told a press conference in the country that the UK understands “this is a sensitive issue”.

Pakistan was put on the red list on April 9 due to concerns about the risk of travellers importing new variants of coronavirus into the UK.

Mr Raab said: “We base our decision on the technical evidence, the scientific basis.

“I understand that is often contested, which is all the more reason why it’s good that the Pakistan special adviser to PM (Imran) Khan will be holding expert level talks with UK public health authorities.

“We want to find a way through, no-one wants Pakistan off the red list more than I do, but we take these decisions at a technical level.

“I think the smart thing for us to do is work together to enable that to happen as soon, as safely and as responsibly as it can be done.”

Read more: British MPs question the scientific basis of Pakistan’s inclusion in the UK redlist

Pakistan off UK red list as reports show low genomic continuity

According to White, there is no data available to indicate that Pakistan will be removed from the red list. However, the analyst added that Pakistan can be added to the amber list to reunite divided families.

The data expert also added that the corona positive rate among the passengers coming from Pakistan is 3.2% and despite a decrease in the number of cases in Pakistan, the corona case rate is more than 5%.

White said: “The rate of genomic continuity in Pakistan is also low.”

“Pakistan is not even among the 50 countries that have submitted monthly genomic reports,” he added.

It is pertinent to mention that genomic sequencing is the definitive method for identifying variants. As of now, it is also the main way that new variants are identified when they appear.

In August, the UK retained Pakistan on its red list, as it failed to meet the requirements on genomic surveillance capability, transmission risk, and variants of concern.

Read more: UK sparks major upset as it keeps Pakistan on red list

As cases fell, chances rose for Pakistan removal from red list

However, its case numbers are low, and reports have suggested the Government is planning to significantly reduced the number of countries that are on the red list.

There have been calls for Pakistan to be moved to the lower-risk amber list, as happened to neighbour India on August 8.

Coronavirus data analyst Tim White said there was a “potentially significant development in Pakistan” on Friday, as it reported a positive test rate in the previous 24 hours of just 6.3%, which was “the lowest for a while”.

There was also a “small fall” in the number of cases, he added.

UK retained Pakistan in red list due to Delta concerns

Pakistan was first added to the list – from where anyone arriving in the UK must quarantine in a designated hotel for 10 days – in early April, due to concerns over the Delta variant of Covid-19. The policy means arrivals from red list locations must spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel, costing £2,285 for solo travellers.

Arrivals from amber tier locations who are fully vaccinated are not required to self-isolate, while those who are not must quarantine at home.

Read more: India taken off UK’s red list but Pakistan stays?

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