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UK travel: Uganda, 46 others removed from red list

UK travel red list cut to just seven countries

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The United Kingdom has removed Uganda from the list of countries that pose a threat of spreading COVID-19 through travel. This means that Ugandans and people travelling from Uganda will no longer need to spend 11 nights in hotel quarantine upon arriving in the United Kingdom.

Uganda was red-listed on June 30, at a time the country was battling the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The country was implementing a 42-day lockdown, as one of the measures taken by the government to keep coronavirus at bay.

Other countries on the same list included Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, Malawi, South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, and Tunisia, among others. Currently, the list has only seven countries after the removal of 47 which have recorded a reduction in COVID-19 infections and improved vaccination. The seven are Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.

“The continued progress on vaccination both at home and around the world means the government can confidently reduce the size of the red list to focus on countries which pose the highest risk, informed by UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) assessment,” the government said in a statement posted by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office-FCDO.

The British government says that the move, which comes into effect at 4am on Monday, is a “major step forward,” for the UK travel industry and travellers, which will make it easier for more people to travel abroad to a larger number of countries and territories.

“We’re now making it easier and cheaper for people to travel by allowing fully vaccinated travellers from non-red list countries to use lateral flow tests on day 2 of arrival, as long as they provide proof of use,” Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement.

The communication shows that all eligible fully vaccinated passengers returning from countries and territories, that are not on the red list, can do so with just a day two test. Other passengers who are not fully vaccinated with an authorised vaccine returning from a non-red destination must still take a pre-departure test, a day two and day eight test, and complete 10-days of self-isolation.

The UK also announced that it would recognise vaccines for arrivals from a further 37 countries and territories including Kenya, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey. This means that eligible travellers vaccinated in the new countries and territories will also be treated the same as returning fully vaccinated UK residents, so long as they have not visited a red list country or territory in the 10 days before arriving in England.

Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health welcomes the move, saying Uganda has since contained the spread of COVID-19. At the peak of the second wave, Uganda recorded over 1,000 cases daily in June. The new cases however reduced to under 100 cases daily since August.

She noted that the United Arab Emirates also removed Uganda from the red list last month. “It means the two countries have seen that the government has put in place measures to control the pandemic.

George Wangaya, the Manager of Awel Tours and Travel Ltd, says that during the travel ban to the UK, his company did not get any inquiries or bookings. “Clients who usually travel to the UK refused to travel because the quarantine costs were very expensive. So I’m excited that Uganda is no longer on the red list.

When UK and the UAE red-listed Uganda, Uganda Airlines had to postpone the launch of its international flights to London and Dubai respectively from mid-year to the end of the year. The airline commenced Dubai flights on October 4 and expects to start London flights next month.

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