INDIA is now on the UK's 'red list' of countries to travel to and from following the discovery of a new coronavirus variant.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We’ve recently seen a new variant first identified in India. We’ve now detected 103 cases of this variant, of which again the vast majority have links to international travel and have been picked up by our testing at the border.

“After studying the data, and on a precautionary basis, we’ve made the difficult but vital decision to add India to the red list.”

“This means anyone who is not a UK or Irish resident or a British citizen cannot enter the UK if they’ve been in India in the previous 10 days.

“UK and Irish residents and British citizens who have been in India in the past 10 days before their arrival will need to complete hotel quarantine for 10 days from the time of arrival.

“These rules will come into force at 4am on Friday.

“India is a country I know well and love. Between our two countries we have ties of friendship and family. I understand the impact of this decision but I hope the House will concur that we must act.”

Matt Hancock said that he cannot give any assurances that the current vaccines the UK has against Covid-19 will be as effective against the new variant of the virus which originated in India.

Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Slough) said: “A new double mutation variant is reportedly more potent and dozens of cases have been detected here in the UK too.

“So can (Mr Hancock) clarify in order to assuage community concerns that our vaccines are effective against this new variant?”

Mr Hancock responded: “We simply don’t know that. We’re acting on a precautionary basis because we do not have… I can’t give him that assurance.

“And of course we’re looking into that question as fast as possible but that is the core of my concern about the variant first found in India, is that the vaccines may be less effective in terms of transmission and, or in terms of reducing hospitalisation and death.

“It is the same concern that we have with the variant first found in South Africa and is the core reason why we took the decision today.”