British parliamentarians have questioned UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the lack of available data and scientific reasoning which have been used to put Pakistan and Bangladesh on ‘red list’.
On April 2, the UK government put Pakistan on the red list of countries effective from April 9. “Red Listing means that only UK and Irish nationals and those with residency rights in the UK will be allowed to travel to the UK if they have been in Pakistan in the 10 days before they arrive,” British High Commissioner Christian Turner said in a video statement.
The United Kingdom had said that the decision to add Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kenya Philippines to the list was based on advice from public health experts as well as scientific data.
Yasmin Qureshi MP, Chair of the All Parties Parliamentary Group on Pakistan (APPG) has written a letter to the PM, which has been signed by about 47 MPS. In the letter, the MPs said that the UK’s decision to put Pakistan and Bangladesh on the red list ‘will have a huge impact on many UK residents’. The UK has over 1.1m British Pakistanis and a large number of British Bangladeshis in the UK, the letter said.
The MPs have expressed their concern about the way the plan to add both countries has been implemented without providing clear evidence.
“Whilst we support measures where there is a clear need to act to protect the UK in relation to COVID-19, we have major concerns about the way this plan has been implemented without providing clear evidence for that decision,” the letter read.
The letter noted that many UK citizens have traveled to these countries and have already paid for return flights ‘but are now in a position where they will have to pay for new flights in order to return before the ban is put in place’.
“Most of those who have traveled are not rich or even moderately wealthy people but are working class citizens,” the letter stated. “We are asking for the Government to explore charter flight options or to provide financial support for those stranded. If this cannot be done, then measures need to be put in place to extend the cut-off date,” the letter further said.
The parliamentarians contended that many other countries not on the red list have more positive coronavirus tests per 100,000 people than Pakistan. The current rate of infection in Pakistan is also reportedly lower than the UK, the letter said.
The MPs said that they would also like to know if the government has a roadmap of how countries are added and removed from the red list to see the consistency of how this is applied.