Covid UK: Countries with variant strains left off red travel list

Britain’s hotel quarantine scheme came under fresh criticism on Sunday when it emerged 35 countries where mutant coronavirus strains have been found are not on the list. 

Earlier this week, the Government confirmed that all passengers from 33 ‘red list’ countries would have to quarantine for ten days in a hotel from February 15.

But an analysis carried out by the World Health Organisation has found dozens of countries where the highly-infectious South African and Brazilian variants have been found are not on the list. 

They include Austria, Denmark, France, Greece, Japan, Kenya, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada and the United States. 

Labour Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds reacted with fury at the news, branding the Government’s quarantine measures ‘dangerously inadequate’.   

Scientists also said the oversight was ‘not good enough’, adding that the virus ‘spreads like wildfire’.  

Britain's hotel quarantine scheme came under fresh criticism on Sunday when it emerged 35 countries where mutant coronavirus strains have been found are not on the list

Britain's hotel quarantine scheme came under fresh criticism on Sunday when it emerged 35 countries where mutant coronavirus strains have been found are not on the list

Britain’s hotel quarantine scheme came under fresh criticism on Sunday when it emerged 35 countries where mutant coronavirus strains have been found are not on the list

Earlier this week, the Government confirmed that all passengers from 33 'red list' countries would have to quarantine for ten days in a hotel from February 15

Earlier this week, the Government confirmed that all passengers from 33 'red list' countries would have to quarantine for ten days in a hotel from February 15

Earlier this week, the Government confirmed that all passengers from 33 ‘red list’ countries would have to quarantine for ten days in a hotel from February 15

The WHO analysis, which was reported by the Sunday Times, also found that the Brazilian Covid strain has been found in ten nations, six of which have not been added to the UK red list.

As well as South Africa and Brazil, nations which are also on the list include Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Rwanda and Botswana.

How will the UK’s arrivals testing scheme work? 

How many tests do people need to get?

1 – Passengers get their first mandatory test within 72-hours of their departing flight.

(When they arrive – from a country that isn’t on the list of 33 ‘red’ countries that will quarantine in a hotel – they must isolate for 10 days)

2 – On day two of self-isolation, a Covid PCR test will be administered. The tests will be posted to the traveller, it is understood.

3 – An optional test can be taken on the fifth day of at-home isolation. If it comes back negative, the traveller will no-longer have to self isolate.

4 – Another mandatory test will be carried out on day eight.

How are the mandatory tests enforced?

Fines will be issued for those who don’t get tested, The Times reports.

But it is not clear how the mandatory testing will be enforced – i.e. how officials will know if the tests have been taken or not.

It is also not clear how much the fines will be.

Will they be lateral flow or PCR tests?

The tests on day two and day eight will likely be PCR tests – which are more reliable than the quicker lateral flow ones.

The tests passengers flying into the UK must take can be lateral flow tests or PCR tests.

It is unclear what tests passengers can take on their optional day five test.

Who will pay for the tests?

The traveller will have to pay for the tests.

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But of the 41 countries which the WHO’s report said the South African strain had spread to, 29 of them do not feature on Britain’s red list. 

Overall, it means arrivals from 35 counties were more infectious strains which could beat or limit the effect of the available coronavirus vaccines will be free to avoid the hotel scheme when they land in Britain.

Instead, they will be trusted to quarantine at home for ten days.

Dr Julian Tang, a virologist at Leicester University, told The Sunday Times: ‘It’s not good enough.

‘This virus spreads like wildfire. If you let some people in but not others, from a virology point of view, it’s fairly futile.’ 

Mr Thomas-Symonds said: ‘These revelations expose the fact that – as Labour warned – the UK Government’s quarantine measures will continue to leave us completely exposed to emerging strains of the virus.

‘Not only are the measures far too slow to begin – 50 days after the South African strain emerged – they are also dangerously inadequate. Tory incompetence is dangerous.’

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband earlier told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘At the moment the government is proposing a quarantine system that covers just five per cent of arrivals that happen each day in the UK.

‘That is not an effective quarantine system.’

The news came after it emerged on Friday night that passengers arriving in Britain from countries not on the Covid hotspot list could have to take up to four tests during their at-home isolation period.  

All the tests must be paid for by the traveller. Those who fail to take the mandatory tests face fines, reports claim.

It is unclear how much the tests will cost, but private patients can fork out around £150 on one currently.

This means it could cost up to £600 for all four tests. 

The travellers’ first test will be taken up to 72 hours before flying – as is the rule currently.

Once home, arrivals must begin their ten-day self isolation.

On their second day in quarantine, travellers need to get a second compulsory Covid test.

It will likely be a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test which will be posted to Britons to carry out themselves, sources claim.

They could also be given the details of their nearest Covid testing centre after filling in a passenger locator form.

Arrivals will then have the option of a third Covid test they can take on the fifth day of at-home isolation.

This is optional and will allow the traveller to leave quarantine early should it come back negative.

Which countries are not currently on the red list but have reported cases of the South African variant

Austria

Austria, has, according to latest data, recorded 75 cases of the South African variant and 25 of the British variant.

It has recently warned against non-essential travel to its Alpine province of Tyrol because of an outbreak of the so-called South African variant of the coronavirus there, the government said in a statement on Monday. 

Denmark

The numbers for Denmark are less clear. The first case of the South African variant in Denmark was on January 16, but there have been no reports since.

Denmark has recently announced that everyone entering the country through land or ports would be subject to a coronavirus test on arrival.

After the test, the person has to undergo a 10-day quarantine at home. 

France

According to reports in France, 40 South-African variant cases and 299 UK variant cases. 

France is said to be tightening rules in a bid to stop the South African and Brazilian variants of Covid-19 taking hold.

Canada

Canada first reported the identification of a South African variant six days ago and has today recorded its first case of the Brazilian variant.

Last week, the area of British Columbia reported 10 cases of the U.K. and South African coronavirus variants, bringing the total number to 28 infections. 

Yesterday, the first two cases of Brazil and South Africa variants were reported in Toronto.

Greece

The South African variant was first detected in Greece at the end of last month.

It was discovered in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city and capital of the region of Macedonia.

Japan

Japan detected its first case of the South African variant at the end of December.

The variant was discovered in a woman in her 30s who arrived in Japan on December 16.

Japan has also had cases of the UK variant and subsequently banned travel from Britain.

Kenya

Kenya identified two cases of the new coronavirus variant at the end of last month.

It was discovered in two men who later left the country, health officials said.

Norway

The South African variant of the coronavirus was first detected in Norway on January 4, but there have been no new reports since.

The virus variant from South Africa was detected in one traveler who came to Norway from South Africa.

Sweden

Sweden recorded its first case of the South African variant on January 3.

A day later it recorded four new cases of strains found in UK and South Africa.

Switzerland

The first case of the South African variant was reported in Switzerland on December 30.

Health officials in the country said two cases had been discovered, along with five cases of the UK variant.

Soon after, officials quarantined two hotels and closed ski schools in St. Moritz.

Australia 

Australia first reported the presence of the new South African coronavirus variant on December 29.

The woman tested positive when in a quarantine hotel and was later taken to hospital.  

Belgium

The first case of the South African variant was detected Belgium in the West-Flanders region.

According to local reports, the patient died from Covid.

Belgium declared its first major outbreak of the South African variant a week later after 15 people tested positive in Ostend. 

China 

The South African variant was first reported in China on January 6 from a throat swab on a patient in Guangdong Provice.

China has also reported a case of the UK variant.  

Cuba

The Caribbean Island is one of the latest places to identify the South African variant.

The variant case was reported on January 27.

Germany

Germany recorded its first case of the coronavirus variant on January 12, in a member of a family that returned from a lengthy stay in the country in December.

It has since has since discovered its own mutated form of the virus and has threatened to close its border with Austria due to its outbreak.

Spain

Spain detected its first strain of the South African variant on January 28.

A second case was discovered n the northeastern region of Catalonia last week.

Finland

Finland confirmed the presence of two new coronavirus variants – one which was first detected in the UK and the other originally found in South Africa – on December 29.

Ghana

The first South African Covid variant was confirmed in Ghana on January 19.

Gambia

There is no reported date when the country first discovered the South African variant, though the World Health Organization say it has been discovered there.

Last month, the country reported it had detected two cases of the UK variant.

Ireland

Ireland first report detection of the South African variant at the start of January.

The cases were in people who had travelled to Ireland from South Africa over the Christmas holidays. 

Health bosses said they were able to contain the spread. 

Israel 

There have been 80 cases of the South African COVID-19 variant discovered in Israel, the Health Ministry last week.

One man is said to have been reinfected with the strain, according to local reports.

South Korea

There is no reported date when the country first discovered the South African variant, though the World Health Organization say it has been discovered there.

The country also reported the presence of the variant first reported in the UK at the end of December.

Lebanon

There is no reported date when the country first discovered the South African variant, though the World Health Organization say it has been discovered there.

The country reported the presence of the UK variant on December 25, on a flight from London.

Luxembourg

Three cases of the South African variant were discovered on January 27.

The discovery was made at a school in Arlon.

Mayotte

The French island in the Indian ocean began a three-week full lockdown on Friday.

It has recorded at least 78 cases of the South African variant.

Netherlands  

The South African variant was discovered for the first time on January 8.

It was found in one person in the Mid and West Brabant region.

New Zealand 

New Zealand first discovered a South African variant when one case emerged on the island.

The patient, a woman, 56, was thought to have contracted illness from a fellow traveller while quarantining at an Auckland hotel. 

Vietnam

The country recorded its first case of the South African variant this month.

It was discovered in Hanoi in a South African woman who had travelled to the country in December.

United States 

The South Africa variant was discovered in the United States for the first time at the end of last month.

South Carolina officials say two such cases were diagnosed in the state. Both had a history of recent travel, according to reports.

 

 

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