The Home Affairs Committee Chair Yvette Cooper found that 1% of the 15,000 people flying to the UK daily are being processed through the quarantine hotel system
On 9 February, 2021, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that anybody travelling from one of the 33 “red-list” countries would be required to stay in a ‘quarantine hotel’ and take COVID tests.
This meant that individuals travelling to the UK had to pay £1,750 to book a quarantine hotel online.
This move applied to people who had been in one of the countries likely to have the South African or Brazilian mutation in the 10 days before their flight.
This measure came into effect on 15 February. On January 8, having proof of a negative COVID test was also made a condition for entering the UK – for any international travellers. These border policies have been criticised by some for being too porous and too slow.
Is the quarantine hotel policy working right now?
In a Home Affairs Committee meeting (24 February), chair Yvette Cooper spoke to Home Secretary Priti Patel, Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft, and Director General of Border Force, Paul Lincoln.
MP Yvette Cooper asks: “How many people are currently arriving? How many people are going to quarantine hotels?”
In response, Home Secretary Priti Patel passes the question onto Paul Lincoln. Director Lincoln explains that there are roughly “15,000 people coming into the country on any given day. At the moment, a third or more of those are hauliers, a third are British citizens.”
He further said that there are currently a total of “about 1100 people currently in the hotels.”
When pressed for a daily figure, he explains that “it is only a hundred or so per day,” out of the incoming 15,000 people.
New mutation in California could pose challenges
Right now, the UK are afraid of the South African and Brazilian mutations – which decrease vaccine efficiency usually by 10%, regardless of which vaccine is given.
Luckily, the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine both appear to be able to protect a person from death or hospitalisation from the South African mutation. Companies are now working on booster shots, that specifically target the mutated form of COVID-19.
The mutation is known to be eight times as infectious as the original virus that exited Wuhan, due to a spike protein change that has made the virus more capable of breaking a human cell.
But a new mutation is being picked up across California, which appears to be dominating COVID cases in the State. This mutation could become a threat for various countries, as it has already been detected in six others and 19 States.