Germany Returns U.K. to Virus-Risk List Over Variant Concern
(Bloomberg) -- Germany returned the U.K. to its list of Covid-19 risk areas, widening the impact of Britain’s rise in cases linked to the so-called India variant.
The change, effective Sunday, is due to the “at least limited occurrence” of the B.1.617.2 variant first detected in India, Germany’s public health authority Robert Koch Institute said in a statement on Friday.
Germany reversed its stance four weeks after taking the U.K. off the risk-area list as the variant threatens the government’s plan to end the pandemic lockdown. The RKI said the U.K. was added because of the virus variant, rather than its relatively low number of cases relative to the country’s population.
The shift means travelers from the U.K. must register online before entering Germany and present a negative coronavirus test to avoid an extended quarantine.
The U.K. will speed up vaccinations of people older than 50 because of concern about “greater risk” from the India variant, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday in London. Confirmed U.K. infections of the strain more than doubled in the past week to 1,313 from 520, according to Public Health England.
While there’s no evidence the variant can evade vaccines, there are signs that it spreads more easily than the Kent mutation which ran rampant in the U.K. in early 2021, prompting a third national lockdown.
By contrast, Germany’s domestic restrictions could ease further after a rolling average of new cases fell to less than 100 per 100,000 people for the first time in almost two months.
With vaccinations accelerating, German authorities have become increasingly confident that Europe’s largest economy can relax limits on movement, including reopening outdoor dining and easing restrictions on non-essential stores.
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