Covid: UK to close all travel corridors from Monday
Covid: UK to close all travel corridors from Monday
UK bans South America and Portugal arrivals amid Brazil variant fears
18 January, 2021, 15:29
The announcement comes just a few weeks after many countries banned travel from the United Kingdom following the discovery of another variant of the virus around London and southeastern England, which has been blamed for a sharp rise in new coronavirus infections and deaths related to COVID-19.
The second, which has been detected in Manaus and in travellers arriving in Japan, has not been detected in the United Kingdom so far.
Britain will ban arrivals from South American countries and Portugal because of concerns over the new Brazilian variant of the coronavirus, a move slammed by Portugal's foreign minister as "absurd".
The Brazilian variant shares some characteristics with those found in Britain and South Africa, which are believed by scientists to be more transmissible but not to cause more severe disease.
Asked if the Brazilian strain was now in the country, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Not as far as we are aware, I think, at this stage".
A leading British virologist said the Brazilian variant had been traced in Britain.
This does not include British and Irish Nationals, or third country nationals with residence rights in the United Kingdom, who will be able to enter the United Kingdom but are required to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival along with their household.
"We always have this issue with travel bans of course, that we're always a little bit behind the curve", he told BBC Breakfast.
Travel bans are already in place for UK-bound passengers from South Africa and Denmark, after new variants of the virus were detected in these countries.
"Our scientists aren't saying that the vaccine won't work against it..."
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the ban, which includes an exemption for hauliers travelling from Portugal to allow the transport of essential goods, was a "necessary step" but accused ministers of incompetence and "lurching from one crisis and rushed announcement to another".
The requirement for passengers arriving in England by boat, train or plane - including United Kingdom nationals - to test negative for Covid up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure was due to come into force at 4am on Friday.
There were tentative signs the national lockdown was bringing infection rates under control in some parts of England.
More than 3.5 million people have now received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in the UK.
- Government scientists put the latest reproductive number - the R rate - for the United Kingdom at 1.2 to 1.3, for data examined up to January 11.
NHS England said around one in five major hospital trusts in England had no spare adult critical care beds on January 10.
On Wednesday, the country recorded it's highest number of daily deaths since the start of the pandemic with 1,564 people dying within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test and another 47,525 daily confirmed coronavirus cases.
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