Residents flying from any of the 33 “red-list” countries will now have to pay online for a quarantine hotel before travelling – which includes two COVID tests that will now be made mandatory
Today, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that UK and Ireland residents would have to book a quarantine hotel package before they were allowed home.
This mandatory measure applies to those who have been in a “red-list” country in the last ten days.
This announcements comes in the wake of pressure on the Government to create a more cohesive border policy, which is intended to stop circulation of the South African mutation – that is not stopped by the AstraZeneca vaccine.
These measures will come into effect on Monday.
Why is the South African mutation so dangerous?
Scientists are increasingly worried that the South African mutation is able to be transmitted between vaccinated individuals, leading to drugmakers like Novavax creating booster jabs with the exact mutation in mind.
While the mutation is more infectious, it has not been proven to be more deadly.
However, the UK is close to vaccinating 15 million highly-vulnerable people, with roughly 3 million left to go. If the South African mutation spreads among them, this transmission could undo the effort to keep individuals out of hospital. Currently, it is not known if the mutation can hospitalise and kill those who are vaccinated, just that the virus can still spread.
What are the 33 “red-list” countries?
Currently, there are 33 countries that the UK Government believes to be circulating the South African mutation of COVID-19. These are: Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Eswatini, French Guiana, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
More COVID testing will be made mandatory too
Currently, passengers take a test before they arrive to the UK. However, from Monday, every single passenger will have to take another test – on day 2 and day 8 of their isolation, whether it is in a quarantine hotel or private residence.
This measure is a clear response to calls that the South African mutation is spreading from countries not included on the official “red-list”.
Again, the people who are about to travel must book these tests before they make their journey. The tests will be further analysed if positive, to make sure the UK is aware of what variants are in the country.
There will be prison time for those who lie about their journeys, according to the Health Secretary speaking in parliament today. He further said: “I make no apologies for the strength of these measures.”