UK fears ‘Nepal transfer’ as it renews travel limit to Portugal
The UK will remove Portugal from its safe travel list on Tuesday amid rising coronavirus cases and fears of a new ‘Nepal mutation’.
Britain is moving Portugal from ‘green’ to ‘amber’ on its list of color-coded travel restrictions – meaning travelers will now have to isolate 10 days when returning to the country.
“I want to be frank with people,” Transportation Secretary Grant Schapps said in a video released Thursday.
“It’s actually a tough decision to make, but in the end we saw two things that really could be of concern.”
“One is that the positive rate has almost doubled since the last review in Portugal,” Schapps added.
“And the other is that there is this kind of Nepalese mutation of the so-called Indian variant that has been detected, and we just don’t know the potential for that to be a mutation against the vaccine.”
Portugal, including the islands of Madeira and the Azores, is one of Britons’ top vacation spots – and it’s been on the green list since May. The orange designation means the government says residents should vacation there.
Other orange countries include France, Spain, and the United States.
The World Health Organization Nepal tweeted Thursday that it “was not aware of any new variants” detected in Nepal. The organization generally avoids identifying strains by country where they are first detected to avoid creating stigma, reported The Guardian.
But Public Health England (PHE) told the BBC it was aware of reports linking an additional K417N mutation to what the WHO calls the Delta variant – the most predominant variant in Nepal.
“This variant is present in several countries, including a small number of cases in the UK, detected through rapid testing and whole genome sequencing,” PHE said, according to the BBC.
“We are studying the K417N to better understand its meaning. “