Call a five-day quarantine for everyone arriving in the UK

SAGE suggests that quarantine rules for arrivals to the UK should be tightened (Image: GETTY)

Leading scientists say all arrivals to the UK should be quarantined for five days to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant.

currently Anyone landing in the UK should take a PCR test By the end of the next day, self-isolate until the test result is negative.

But the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) called on all arrivals to self-quarantine for five days and take a PCR test before departure, regardless of vaccination status.

In leaked minutes from Monday’s SAGE meeting, scientists said current travel restrictions could allow a “significant” number of infected people to avoid detection.

There is nothing to prevent arrivals from taking a PCR test upon arrival and receiving results the same day, and getting them out of isolation within hours.

SAGE cautioned that this does not give the virus time to incubate, and advised that PCR tests be submitted for the fifth and eighth day.

The video conference, which took place on Monday, was attended by more than 30 scientists led by chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance and chief medical advisor Professor Chris Whitty.

During the meeting, scientists said pre-departure Covid testing for travelers returning to the UK would be “valuable” – at the moment only unvaccinated travelers should complete “flight-friendly” tests.

Sir Keir Starmer said the lack of pre-departure tests for UK arrivals was a ‘clear gap in the country’s defences’ (Photo: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock)

The Scottish and Welsh governments have already written to the prime minister asking for longer quarantine rules for travelers to be introduced.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, also called for pre-departure Covid tests to be reintroduced for travelers to the UK on Monday.

Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer said the lack of testing was a “clear gap in the country’s defences”.

Speaking to The Wolrd at One on BBC Radio 4, Ms Cooper said: “It’s just common sense at the moment.

‘If you have Omicron spread all over the world It is really important to take action to prevent new cases from arriving in the UK.

Monday’s meeting was chaired by Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer and chief medical adviser to the UK government (Image: PA)

What we know from the first wave of Covid, as well as from the Delta variant of Covid, is that the big problem for the UK has been the arrival of a lot of new cases.

In the first wave, we had about 10,000 separate Covid cases that all arrived in the country in early March. This greatly accelerated the spread of the epidemic.

“So the task now is to stop many different separate cases of Omicron arriving in the UK and that’s why you have to be really vigilant.”

Minutes of Monday’s meeting that took place Leaked to the BBCThey also warned that officials must now prepare for a “potential” wave of infection.

Minutes suggest that while it is too soon to know how sick the Omicron variant is in people, there are concerns that its mutations mean that it is ‘very likely’ that it will be able to escape immunity caused by infection or previous vaccination ‘to’. Somewhat ”.

Scientists are still “very unsure” about the size of the future wave, but warn that “very drastic” measures may need to be implemented to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Once we became aware of the Omicron variant, we took swift action to protect public health – including expanding the red list, introducing PCR testing for travelers, and changing the rules on self-isolation from close contacts and face coverings in stores. commercial and public transport.

Furthermore, we are accelerating our vaccination program by offering a booster injection to all adults in England by the end of January, halving the gap between second doses and boosters, and offering second vaccinations to children aged 12-15, following advice from JCVI.

“We continue to monitor the situation closely and will not hesitate to take further action if necessary,” he added.

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