Wednesday, 8 Jul 2020

Top medic says quarantine is ‘appropriate now as UK becomes area of low incidence of Covid-19’

Quarantine for travellers arriving in Britain is appropriate now because the UK is “becoming an area of low incidence of Covid-19,” the deputy chief medical officer has said.

At the Downing Street daily briefing, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam provided the medical justification for the introduction of quarantine for all travellers except those from Ireland.

“We are lucky in that we are driving down our case rate to the point where we are becoming an area of low incidence of Covid-19,” he said.

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“At that point then it becomes more sensible to think about what the contribution of travellers from abroad might be.”

Boris Johnson announced on Sunday 10 May: “It will soon be the time – with transmission significantly lower – to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air.”

Later, No 10 said arrivals by sea and rail would also be required to self-isolate for 14 days at home.

Professor Van-Tam pointed out that the UK had imposed quarantine for arrivals from some locations early on in the coronavirus outbreak.

“We did it for at a time when the virus activity was concentrated into international hotspots such as Hubei province, South Korea, northern Italy.

“We are now in a very different world where this virus has spread completely internationally.”

Earlier, the transport secretary told the Commons that the 14-day self-isolation plan will not now begin until June.

Grant Shapps said: “The final details of the quarantine scheme will be released soon and come in early next month.”

Airlines and holiday companies are increasingly frustrated that the starting date of the self-isolation measure has not yet been announced.

Tui and Jet2 are still hoping to re-start operations in the second half of June, but cannot guide prospective holidaymakers on the likelihood of their trips going ahead.

A senior travel industry source told The Independent: “The cabinet is broadly split, but that doesn’t matter as quarantine is what Dominic Cummings thinks we should do.”

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