Fears Nepal mutation of Indian covid variant could beat vaccine behind Portugal green list decision, Transport Secretary says

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has revealed that Portugal was removed from the UK’s green travel list due to a so-called Nepal coronvirus mutation.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 3:46 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 5:13 pm

Holidaymakers are facing blows to their plans on Thursday, June 3, as no new countries are moved onto the UK’s green travel list and Portugal has been moved to amber.

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps branded the move as a “difficult decision to make” but revealed that a so-called Nepal mutation of the Indian Covid variant was behind the decision.

Mr Shapps said: “I want to be straight with people, it’s actually a difficult decision to make, but in the end we’ve seen two things really which caused concern.

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has revealed that Portugal was removed from the UK's green travel list due to a Covid mutation of the Indian variant. Photo: Getty Images.

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“One is the positivity rate has nearly doubled since the last review in Portugal and the other is there’s a sort of Nepal mutation of the so-called Indian variant which has been detected and we just don’t know the potential for that to be vaccine-defeating mutation and simply don’t want to take the risk as we come up to June 21 and the review of the fourth stage of the unlock.”

The Transport Secretary also revealed that “decisive action” on travel to other countries will allow for further “domestic unlock”.

He added: “I think we have to be perfectly honest and say of course things are much less certain than they would have been a couple of years ago. That’s the nature of this coronavirus.

“Europe is probably 10 weeks behind but they will catch up and I don’t know exactly what that will mean in terms of the summer but the decisive action today is designed to protect the future, to make sure that we can do a domestic unlock or give ourselves the best possible chance of doing so and that will also help us to unlock international travel given time.

“So we’re not in the same place as last year, we’ve got the vaccination programme, we do need to check though that the vaccine can work against all the kinds of mutations that we’re seeing and so we’re having to take a safety first attitude when it comes to those mutations becoming apparent.”

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