FOREIGN holidays are at risk from a new mutation of Covid from Nepal which has spread to Europe, it has been reported.
Officials fear the ‘Nepal Variant’ is resistant to vaccines – and Government scientists are already warning ministers of the strain’s dangers.
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Whitehall sources told the Daily Mail there will be just a few additions to the travel green list amid concern Brits’ hard work could yet be undone.
And the paper claims there are even fears Portugal could lose its green status today as the Nepal variant may have been detected there.
Scientists from the Joint Biosecurity Centre are reportedly concerned about rising infection rates and the emergence of mutations in the holiday hotspot.
Portugal was the first of 12 countries and territories to be rated green just three weeks ago.
It comes as:
However, a member of Sage said the UK need not be overly concerned just yet.
“There are thousands of variants,” he said.
“This is a virus that is changing all the time.”
And Tory peer Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, chairman of the Airport Operators’ Association, told the publication: “How many more variants have we got to be worried about?
“What matters is data and the success of our vaccination programme.”
Hospitals in Nepal are on the brink of collapse after a tragic spike in Covid cases.
The number of new infections recorded a day had fallen to fewer than 100 in March.
But by mid-May, more than 9,000 new cases were being recorded a day.
Nepal’s second wave has been fuelled by a huge rise in infections in neighbouring India, which has recorded the worst daily death tolls since the pandemic began.
But now experts say yet another worrying variant has been identified.
It comes as experts and officials say the Indian mutation will likely become dominant in the UK after it began spreading rapidly during the spring.
Despite the emergence of the troubling variants, it’s expected that eight more countries will be added to the green list within hours.
Travel expert Paul Charles believes that both the Canary and the Balearic Islands in Spain could be added, along with Malta and Morocco.
But some sources say the number of new countries opening to UK travellers will be “extremely limited” as a result of concern over the Nepal strain and the slower rollout of vaccines across Europe.
It means holidays in Europe may be restricted until August.
Ministers reportedly believe that’s the month there’ll be a huge reboot for travel abroad.
Mainland Spain is likely to remain on the amber list until July 20.
The PM said Brits must be “cautious” over their holidays.
“We’ve got to continue to put countries on the red list, on the amber list, when that is necessary and I want you to know we will have no hesitation in moving countries from the green list to the amber list, to the red list, if we have to do so,” he said.
“The priority is to continue the vaccine rollout to protect the people of this country.”
Despite concerns over the Indian strain, the PM has been told to “get on with it” and lift lockdown entirely on June 21.
Tory grandee Sir Iain Duncan Smith has told the PM to ignore “nervous scientists” and plough ahead with ‘Freedom Day’ as planned.
He said he has a “horrible feeling” stage four won’t go ahead – because “everyone is very jittery” in the wake of Dominic Cummings’ evidence about the Government response.
Urging ministers to “go ahead with June 21”, he said many are listening to “nervous” scientists “peddling assumptions”.
Everything about travel rules – Spain latest and if a country turns amber
“They keep saying: ‘We’re going to listen to the science’,” he said.
“But they’re not – they’re listening to the scientists. The science is what you make of it. We haven’t seen any uptick in hospitalisations.”