Countries consider tougher restrictions on UK over Covid variant

Countries consider tougher restrictions on UK over Covid variant

January 22, 2021

Britain faces becoming a global pariah: Countries around the world consider tougher restrictions on UK after Boris Johnson announced British strain of coronavirus could be more deadly

  • EU leaders reportedly drawing-up a blueprint which could lead to UK travel ban 
  • The Netherlands is to tighten restrictions from tonight, as Portugal did yesterday
  • Cases have today been reported in Canada, America and 16 cases in Philippines

Britain faces becoming a global pariah as countries around the world consider tougher travel restrictions in a bid to keep out Britain’s ‘more deadly’ Covid strain.

EU leaders are said to be drawing up a blue-print which could see travel banned from the UK to all of the union’s member states.

It come as the Netherlands is set to ban all passenger flights and ferry travel from the UK tonight.

Portugal last night banned travel both to and from Britain due to fears over the new variant.

And more countries could now follow suit after Boris Johnson and top scientific advisers warned the UK’s mutant strain could be 30 per cent more deadly than older versions of the virus.

Meanwhile, cases of the UK variant have today been confirmed in both America and Canada.

Officials in the Philippines, which had banned incoming UK flights over Christmas, said 16 cases of Britain’s mutant strain had also been discovered. 

EU leaders are said to be drawing up a blue-print which could see travel banned from the UK to all of the union’s member states. Pictured: The UK Border at Heathrow was busy today despite various travel restrictions 

It come as the Netherlands is set to introduce new restrictions from tonight on UK travel into the country, while Portugal last night banned travel both to and from Britain due to fears over the new variant. Pictured: Travellers at the departure area at Heathrow today

One case of the UK strain had previously been detected on the South East Asian islands, the country’s Department of Health said. 

But officials say a further 12 cases have now been found in the Bontoc Mountain region, one case in the La Trinidad area and one case in Calamba City.

Another two cases are said to have been brought in from Lebanon, health officials say.

In Canada’s Nova Scotia region health chiefs have today reported one confirmed case of the UK variant and another of the South African variant.

In New Jersey, US, officials today reported their first two cases of the UK Covid strain. 

Meanwhile EU leaders have reportedly drawn-up a travel blueprint that could lead to a ban on passengers from the UK.

EU officials held discussions this week over border controls, including between member states, with new measures set to be announced on Monday.

These could include bans on travel from countries outside the bloc, such as the UK.

The European commission president Ursula von der Leyen said member states were ‘free to impose further-reaching temporary bans on entry and on transporting passengers entering from third countries with virus variant areas’. 

The Netherlands are one country to impose tighter restrictions – banning passenger flights and ferries from the UK and Northern Ireland from tonight.

A statement on the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs said today: ‘This is one of the measures taken by the cabinet to prevent the spread of new variants of the corona virus from abroad.

‘This means that after that time you can no longer fly directly to the Netherlands.

‘From that date, passengers can no longer travel by ferry from England to the Netherlands. 

‘This ban on flying and mooring will probably be lifted when quarantine becomes mandatory by Dutch law.’

The move follows a decision by Portugal to suspended flights to and from the UK.

It comes as the Prime Minister and his science chiefs tonight made the shocking claim that the Kent variant of the coronavirus could be 30 per cent more deadly than older versions of the virus. 

The trio presented a mixed bag at the Downing Street press conference tonight as they sounded optimism about a recent decline in infections but warned the new variant could lead to higher death rates in the coming weeks and months.

Explaining the risk change out loud without presenting data to prove the terrifying development after it was leaked to ITV political editor Robert Peston before the briefing, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said that hospital data had suggested the variant could increase the risk of death for a man his 60s from 1 per cent to 1.3 per cent, but he admitted ‘the evidence is not yet strong’.

A 30 per cent increase in the risk of death does not mean 30 per cent of people will die, but is a relative increase, Sir Patrick explained.

The doom-mongering came despite an array of statistics that showed the second wave appears to have peaked already and be coming under control, although SAGE warned there are still ‘dangerously high’ levels of infection.

SAGE today said Britain’s R rate has fallen below the crucial level of one as separate experts estimated daily cases have halved in a fortnight and the Department of Health’s own statistics show daily infections have fallen every day for almost two weeks.

Another 40,261 positive tests were recorded today, down almost 30 per cent in a week. Officials also recorded 1,401 fatalities, up just 9.5 per cent on last Friday.

The change of tone in Government messaging comes as, Prime Minister Mr Johnson, England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government Sir Patrick Vallance presented a mixed bag of news at the Downing Street press conference tonight

Defying mounting pressure to commit to easing the current measures, Mr Johnson warned today that the NHS is still under huge pressure and the curbs will only be lifted when it is ‘safe’.

Downing Street was warned it faces the ‘mother of all battles’ next month when it has to discuss relaxing the restrictions.

The 70-strong Covid Recovery Group of Conservative MPs is urging the government to start lifting the lockdown no later than March 8 – when vaccines given to the most vulnerable groups should have taken effect.

But No10’s refusal to give an exact day for when lockdown will end may have been fuelled by worrying findings from scientists feeding into SAGE who sounded the alarm about the possible increased death risk of the variant.

‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson, the Imperial College London epidemiologist whose grim modelling warned hundreds of thousands of Britons could die without action back in March, told ITV it is a ‘realistic possibility’ the new variant increases the risk of death.

The variant has already been spotted in 60 countries, including the US, Australia, India, China and Saudi Arabia. But the Government’s top scientific advisers believe the current crop of vaccines will work against the variant – but may be less effective against other South African and Brazilian mutations.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has sensationally claimed to travel agents in a private zoom call that vaccines may be 50 per cent less effective on the South African variant, claiming that the information was in the public domain but admitted ‘I wouldn’t say this in public’ as he failed to provide evidence, MailOnline revealed today.

And grim figures laying bare the other economically-crippling side of lockdown reveal business activity has fallen even more than expected this month, leaving the UK looking down the barrel of a double dip recession.

Number 10 borrowed more than £34billion in December – the third highest monthly total ever – as it scrambles to keep millions of jobs and stricken firms afloat while tax revenues dwindle.

Instead Cabinet ministers are embroiled in an unseemly squabble over whether to pump up financial support further and toughen rules at UK borders.

A leaked plan from Matt Hancock’s Department of Health would see everyone who tests positive for coronavirus given £500 in cash to self-isolate.

The idea, which could cost half a billion pounds a week, is meant to bolster low levels of compliance – but officials at Rishi Sunak’s Treasury branded it ‘bonkers’, while No10 effectively disowned the proposal, saying the PM had not seen it.

Meanwhile, the powerful Covid O Cabinet committee is due to made a decision on introducing ‘quarantine hotels’ next week – with all arrivals potentially forced to isolate for 10 days at airports in a bid to prevent more Covid ‘super-strains’ being imported.

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