LONDON: Britain said on Friday (Apr 2) it would add Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and the Philippines to its travel "red list", banning entry to people arriving from those countries unless they are British or Irish nationals.
Those who come to Britain from countries on the red list will be refused entry, while returning Britons must submit to 10 days of mandatory quarantine in hotels.
The ban includes those who left the countries or transited though them in the previous 10 days.
The Department for Transport cited coronavirus "variants of concern" and said the list expansion came at a "critical time for the vaccine programme".
The additional restrictions will "help to reduce the risk of new variants - such as those first identified in South Africa and Brazil - entering England", said the department.
From 4am on Apr 9, Pakistan, Kenya, the Philippines and Bangladesh will be put on the list, the government said, joining about three dozen other nations mainly in Africa, the Middle East and South America.
The Philippines reported a record 15,310 new COVID-19 infections on Friday, one of the highest in the region since the pandemic started. The country now has a total of 771,497 cases and 13,320 deaths.
There have been calls for the inclusion of some European countries where COVID-19 cases have surged, but the government has said it currently has no plans to do so.
The UK has set a potential May 17 date for resuming international travel, which is banned except for a few legally permitted reasons.
A task force set up by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to propose a traffic-light system to rank countries red, green or amber for travel according to the risks posed by their virus rates.