Europe

COVID-19: Turkey expects to be removed from red list when travel rules reviewed later this week

Turkey expects to be removed from the UK’s travel red list later this week, the country’s embassy in London has told Sky News.

“The scientific data on COVID-19 support our expectation that Turkey will be removed from the red list at the upcoming review,” the embassy said in a statement.

Live travel updates ahead of latest review of traffic light system

Turkey has been on the red list since May, meaning almost all travel from the country to the UK is banned.

British and Irish nationals and those who have residence rights in the UK can return, but must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 11 days at a cost of more than £2,000.

The travel rules will next be reviewed on Thursday (26 August) and its embassy in London is bullish about the country losing its red list designation.

It said in a statement that case numbers in the country are falling and are now lower than those in the UK.

The embassy cited data from Our World In Data, which shows that the seven-day rolling average for new cases in Turkey is 232.46, while in the UK it is 464.76.

It argues that Turkey has improved its genomic sequencing and continues to make progress with its COVID vaccination programme, with more than half of adults in the country having received two doses.

The embassy also pointed to the EU’s recent acceptance of COVID certificates issued in Turkey and the fact that a range of countries already allow quarantine-free travel from Turkey if travellers are fully vaccinated as further evidence as to why the country should be taken off the red list.

“We expect the UK to take into account all these developments and remove Turkey from the red list this week,” the embassy said.

NHS Test and Trace figures show 1.7% of people arriving into the UK from Turkey tested positive in the latest three-week period – this is the same as Spain, which is on the amber list.

This figure is down from 3% in March and April.

Cases of “variants of concern” are also low – between zero and three.

Paul Charles, from the PC Agency travel consultancy, said: “Turkey very much deserves to be on the amber list as it has some of the best COVID safety policies in place, especially in hotels and other tourist areas, and has worked hard to reduce its infection rates. Many agree it feels safer there than it does in the UK.”

Data expert Tim White, who tweets updates on daily figures around the world, says Turkey is a “borderline candidate” to turn amber.

Mr White also told Sky News that Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Iraq, Iran and Russia could all be in danger of turning red, along with popular holiday destinations Morocco and Jamaica.

The comments from the Turkish embassy come after Pakistan’s top diplomat in the UK said earlier this month that Boris Johnson had assured him the government was “looking into” the prospect of removing the South Asian country from the travel red list.

The Department of Transport says its policy around international travel is guided by public health and traffic light allocations are based on a range of factors, including genomic surveillance capability, transmission risk and variants of concern.

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