The UK will drop Portugal from its safe travel list on Tuesday over rising coronavirus cases and fears of a new “Nepal mutation.”
Britain is moving Portugal from “green” to “amber” on its color-coded list of travel restrictions – meaning travelers will now have to isolate 10 days when returning to the country.
“I want to be straight with people,” Transport Secretary Grant Schapps said in a video broadcast on Thursday.
“It’s actually a difficult decision to make but in the end we’ve seen two things really which would cause concern.”
“One is the positive rate has nearly doubled since the last review in Portugal,” Schapps added.
“And the other is there’s this 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 a vaccine-defeating mutation.”
Portugal, including islands Madeira and the Azores, is a top holiday spots for Britons – and it has been on the green list since May. The amber designation means the government says residents should vacation there.
Other amber countries include France, Spain – and the US.
The World Health Organization Nepal tweeted on Thursday it “was not aware of any new variant” detected in Nepal. The organization generally avoids identifying strains by countries where they’re first detected to avoid creating a stigma, The Guardian reported.
But Public Health England (PHE) told the BBC it was aware of reports linking an additional mutation K417N to what the WHO calls Delta variant – the most predominant variant in Nepal.
“This variant is present in multiple 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 investigating K417N to better understand its significance.”