UK mulls hotel quarantine amid new variant concerns
London, Jan 24 (IANS) the UK government is considering the possibility of hotel quarantines for arrivals into the country amid concerns over new coronavirus variants found abroad.
Ministers will discuss the issue at a meeting on Monday whether to further tighten restrictions at the borders, Xinhua news agency reported.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not rule out taking further action at British borders during a virtual press briefing at Downing Street on Friday.
“I really don’t rule it out, we may need to take further measures still. We may need to go further to protect our borders,” he said.
“We don’t want to put that (efforts to control coronavirus) at risk by having a new variant come back in,” he added.
Under the current coronavirus restrictions, almost all people arriving in the UK must have a negative coronavirus test for72 hours before travelling to be allowed entry.
All passengers are also required to quarantine for up to 10 days. The isolation period can be cut short with a second negative test after five days in England.
Johnson also warned that the coronavirus variant first identified in Britain may be more deadly than the older variant.
“There is some evidence that the new variant may be associated with a higher degree of mortality,” Johnson said.
The new strain of coronavirus first identified in Kent, England, is thought to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible. However, Johnson said that the current vaccines are still effective against the new variant.
England is currently under the third national lockdown since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country.
Similar restriction measures are also in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The UK has so far reported a total of 3,627,746 coronavirus cases and 97,518 deaths.