Politics

Fears mutant Covid brought into UK from France as most arrivals don't quarantine


There are fears mutant strains of Covid-19 could be entering the UK from France as 68 per cent of arrivals are exempt from quarantine.

In some regions of France, up to 40 per cent of new cases are the Brazil and South Africa variants of coronavirus that are more resistant to vaccines.

Boris Johnson is said to be facing pressure from two of his top advisers – Chris Whitty and Jonathan Van-Tam – to impose tougher border controls in a bid to stop variants from bring brought into the country.

Professor Van-Tam, England’s depity chief medical officer, told MPs on Tuesday that 68 per cent of people arriving from France – mostly lorry drivers – are exempt from quarantine due to England’s existing rules. to keep goods flowing.



People wearing protective face masks walk near the Eiffel Tower
People wear face masks as they walk near the Eiffel Tower in Paris (file photo)

An MP who attended the briefing told the Times: “Anyone on that call would understand that he thinks the ‘red list’ needs expanding. France was the one that kept coming up but Germany was also mentioned because of increased numbers of variants.”

Professor Van-Tam and Professor Whitty, the chief medical officer, have urged the Prime Minister to impose tougher border controls to prevent mutant strains from being imported, the newspaper reported.

The experts are “very concerned” as a majority of arrivals from France are exempt from quarantine measures, it is said.

Ministers are reportedly in “advanced” talks to implement rapid Covid-19 tests for lorry drivers arriving in the UK in a bid to keep out mutant strains.

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But Government sources told the Times that adding France to the ‘red list’ of countries – requiring all arrivals to quarantine – would be “disproportionate”.

Earlier this week, it emerged Mr Johnson was facing pressure to add France to the ‘red list’ of countries which require quarantine for arrivals.



A lorry passes through UK Border Control at the Eurotunnel site in Calais
A lorry passes through UK Border Control in Calais, France (file photo)



Professor Jonathan Van-Tam at a Downing Street press conference
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam has reportedly called for tougher border controls

People arriving from 35 ‘red list’ countries, including Brazil and South Africa, must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days at a cost of £1,750.

No European countries are on the list, despite a third wave of cases rolling through countries such as France, Italy and Germany.

The Prime Minister has warned Britons of the potential of a third wave of the virus in the UK, and told those eager to go on a summer holiday abroad that trips “certainly look difficult for the time being”.

Professor Whitty told reporters this week that the Government had last year failed to stop a “massive importation” of cases from France, Italy and Spain while infections were surging in those countries.

Some experts have said a third wave in the UK is inevitable once society is unlocked, with some predicting it could roll through Britain this summer and others predicting another surge in autumn or winter.





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