All those fleeing Afghanistan will be offered a COVID vaccine following their arrival to the UK, the Department for Health and Social Care has announced.
New vaccination points will be set up at each managed quarantine hotel – where arrivals from Afghanistan will have to isolate for 10 days due to the country being on the UK’s travel red list.
And each of those who arrive in the UK following Afghanistan’s takeover by the Taliban will be offered a coronavirus vaccine – if they have not yet had one – after they have tested negative for COVID on their second day in Britain.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University in the US, Afghanistan has reported a total of 152,411 COVID cases and 7,047 deaths.
However, only 1.8 million COVID vaccine doses have been given in the country of nearly 40 million people, with less than 0.6% of the total population fully vaccinated with two doses.
By contrast, 76% of the UK’s population of over-16s have received both vaccine doses.
Amid the continuing chaos in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, UK armed forces are currently attempting to evacuate many of those Afghans who were locally employed by Britain in the country.
They are being offered resettlement in the UK under the Afghanistan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme.
The government has also said that those Afghans who are quarantining in the UK will be allowed to stay in large family groups for support, with toys provided for children and clothes given to those who may have left their country with very little.
Managed quarantine hotels will also have a 24/7 on-site medical team, with daily health and wellbeing checks carried out.
Meanwhile, councils across England, Scotland and Wales will have access to a fund of £5m to help them provide housing and support to Afghans who are being resettled under the ARAP programme.
So far, since Saturday, the UK evacuated 1,615 people, including 399 British nationals and their dependents, 320 embassy staff, and 402 Afghan nationals under ARAP.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Our immediate focus is to evacuate the Afghans who risked their lives supporting us over the past twenty years and to whom we owe so much.
“We are proud to bring them to the UK, and this additional support will help make sure that those arriving from Afghanistan receive the housing and healthcare that they need as they start to build a new life here.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid on Friday met with some of those who had recently arrived from Afghanistan under the ARAP scheme.
“As health secretary, my focus is on the health and wellbeing of families from the moment they touch down in the UK,” he said.
“I was very pleased today to be able to meet one such family who arrived recently and learn from their experience of the healthcare we have provided so far.
“We are boosting our health and wellbeing services to evacuees during their 10 day quarantine.
“This includes giving everyone a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, if they have not already received one, doubling our medical provision to ensure everyone can access support round the clock and reuniting families who arrive on different flights where we can.”