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Germany classifies UK coronavirus risk region

The UK has one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in the world. But the emergence of a highly infectious variant first discovered in India has caused concern.

German health officials on Friday slapped Britain back on the list of coronavirus "risk areas" amid fears over the spread of the Indian COVID-19 variant there.

The move comes despite the UK*s vaccination drive that has seen its citizens taken off travel red lists across the world.

According to the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases, the classification was made "despite a 7-day incidence of less than 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants" in the UK.

However, the move was prompted after the World Health Organization classified the B.1.617.2 variant (detected in India) as a "Variant of Concern."

How widespread is the variant in the UK?

The UK government on Friday said the variant was "increasing rapidly" in parts of England.

Cases have doubled from 520 last week to 1,313 this week, officials said.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told journalists on Friday that there was currently no evidence that the variant would evade the vaccines that are being deployed across the country.

“I have to level with you, this new variant could pose a serious disruption to our progress,” he said.

“And I must stress that we will do whatever it takes to keep the public safe.”

England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said there is "confidence" that the Indian variant is "more transmissible" than the strains already circulating in the UK.

Britain will now accelerate second doses of vaccines for the over-50s and the clinically vulnerable in a bid to stem its transmission.

What are the travel rules for entering Germany?

Germany this week eased rules for travelers coming from "risk areas," the lowest of three risk levels, allowing unvaccinated people to avoid the previous 10-day quarantine if they can show a negative test.

Those who are fully vaccinated or can prove they have recovered from COVID-19 by showing a positive PCR test that is at least 28 days old, do not need to quarantine.

Anyone coming from a risk country must still register their trip online with German authorities.

Unvaccinated people entering Germany by plane must show a negative test before boarding.

jf/rt (AFP, dpa, Reuters)