Countries on UK travel ‘red list’ have ten times lower Covid case rates than Britain

Namibia is one of 33 countries from which visitors are banned – Getty Just two

Namibia is one of 33 countries from which visitors are banned - Getty
Namibia is one of 33 countries from which visitors are banned – Getty

Just two of the 33 countries on the UK’s travel “red list” have a higher Covid case rate than the UK, The Telegraph’s analysis has shown, while several are seeing more than 10 times fewer infections than Britain.

Under tough new border rules, citizens of red list countries are banned from visiting the UK, while British residents returning from these destinations will soon be forced to spend 10 days under guard in a quarantine hotel.

However, the latest data suggests that the chance of an infected traveller coming to the UK from many of these countries – particularly when they are required to take a PCR test before departure – is small.

The seven-day case rate in the UK currently stands at 294.7 per 100,000 people, while the figure for Rwanda, for example, which was added to the red list yesterday, is just 18.2.

Sarah Marshall, a journalist currently based in the region, said: “I cannot believe they’ve added Rwanda to the list. I was there two weeks ago and the Covid situation was totally under control. I had four tests in 10 days in order to travel around – it was so well organised. The highest number of Covid deaths they’ve had in a single day is seven.

“I’ve been to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and the UAE in the last couple of months, and am currently in Kenya. Everywhere feels safe. This just feels like distraction tactics.”

Other countries on the red list have even lower case rates. For Mozambique the figure is 17.9 per 100,000, for Burundi, also added on Thursday, it’s 1.9, for Angola it’s 1.5, and for both Mauritius and the DRC it’s 1.

How UK cases compare with African countries on the red list
How UK cases compare with African countries on the red list
The global picture
The global picture

Even South Africa, which has seen infections spike in recent weeks, has a case rate three times smaller than the UK.

Only Portugal (884.9 per 100,000) and the Seychelles (394.9) have higher rates than Britain.

It is true that the UK is testing far more people than many of the countries on its red list, but Britain’s Covid death rate is also far higher than the countries from which it is banning visitors.

How UK deaths compare with African countries on the red list
How UK deaths compare with African countries on the red list
The global picture
The global picture

The Government has said that its key concern is variants that might hinder its vaccine rollout, but – while fears remain about the Brazilian strain – Pfizer this week declared that its vaccine is effective against the South African variant.

Charlotte Bond, director of Namibia-based ATI Holidays, said: “News that the Pfizer vaccine is effective on the South African strain adds weight to our argument that the hotel quarantine is a massive overreaction and comes way too late to make any difference to the situation, except for forcing more bankruptcies, redundancies and poverty.

“Furthermore, trials on the new Novavax jab have indicated a 60% efficacy against the same strain which, although lower than for the original virus, is still extremely encouraging. Why can’t travellers be subject to a rapid test on arrival at the airport, so they could avoid hotel quarantine? Surely that would be a fair and safe compromise, especially since they would already have had a negative PCR test within the previous 72 hours?”

Case rates compared
Case rates compared

This week Telegraph Travel reported on fears that the UK’s travel restrictions will have a devastating impact on African communities and wildlife.

Jackie Burton, managing director of Chameleon Safaris, also based in Namibia, told us that unemployment in the country is already spiralling. She added: “There is no Government support or unemployment benefit here, and the enormous detrimental effect of no tourism across the world is affecting far more people than have been infected by Covid-19. The subsequent mortalities to come, through suicide, starvation, chronic poverty, loneliness and mental health issues, will be massive.”

Originally published