Testing at airports could reduce need for 14-day quarantine in England, MEPs say | World news

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Senior MPs are putting increasing pressure on the government to reconsider its approach to the 14-day quarantine for travelers from at-risk countries, amid warnings that more European countries with Covid-19 spikes may see the restrictions reimposed.Oliver Dowden, Culture Secretary, said on Wednesday that ministers believe there was “no viable alternative” to the quarantine period. “It’s not a quick fix, so you can test negative initially, and then the virus can incubate and spread,” he told LBC.

However, senior Conservative and Labor MPs, along with Heathrow Managing Director John Holland-Kaye, have pointed to airport testing systems in use in other countries that could help shorten the isolation time for returning travelers. .

Quarantine restrictions for travelers returning to England from Belgium and Luxembourg could be re-imposed in the next two days, as ministers work to contain any new threat from a potential second wave of coronavirus in some European countries.

Ministers are closely monitoring the increase in the number of infections in Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as in Croatia.

Former cabinet minister David Davis said airport testing could partially replace quarantine periods. “Vienna has been doing this for months. I don’t understand why we haven’t done it, ”he wrote on Twitter. “Nothing is perfect, you are as likely to catch the virus on the London Underground when you return home as you are on the plane or on vacation.”

Theresa Villiers, a former aviation minister, said MPs urged the Transport Department to find a better solution than the two-week isolation period, though testing alone was unlikely to be the solution. “I know colleagues are urging the DfT to make it happen, but I’m afraid it’s not in time to save this summer’s vacation,” Villiers said.

“I hope that the tests can be deployed to reduce the quarantine periods, but I am not sure that the tests are a complete substitute. The big problem is that putting either approach in place for a regionalised quarantine and a new testing regime at airports to reduce the quarantine period will take time.

Chris Bryant, a former Minister of Labor, tweeted: “One thing that always mystifies me is why we don’t test people at the border, and if necessary seven days later. We don’t even check people’s temperatures!

Scientists have warned that mass testing at airports is unlikely to preclude the need for quarantine measures, as the virus’ incubation period could be up to five days before a test can detect whether someone is positive.

Modeling done by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that testing on arrival could only catch around 50% of cases – but combined with a seven-day quarantine with a test on the last day, that rate could reach 94% and reduce quarantine. one week period.

Dowden said people should “keep booking vacations, but just keep in mind that [fresh quarantines] can happen, and unfortunately it happened in Spain ”. He said he understood people’s anxiety and frustration about the next step. “Believe me, friends, family and people I meet on the street, everyone is asking this question,” he said.

The rate of Covid-19 nearly tripled in Belgium this month, from 5.3 to 15.1 per 100,000 population, with the number of cases rising from 615 to 1,751, leading to a crackdown on the number of people allowed to socialize . The infection rate in Luxembourg is 15 times higher per capita than in the UK.

A 14-day quarantine, similar to those reimposed on tourists returning from Spain last weekend, could be reintroduced later this week for travelers arriving in England from those countries if the trajectory of new cases continues, even if it would be up to the decentralized administrations to decide to do the same.

The Croatian tourism board on Wednesday issued a statement saying the country was still “extremely safe” for tourists and said the increase in the number of cases was largely in the far eastern regions of the country. Croatia, far from popular coastal areas populated by tourists.

The increase in the number of cases was linked to a number of large-scale events, tournaments, large weddings and family reunions, and new restrictions were now in place, the tourism board said.

Kristjan Stanicic, Managing Director of the Croatian National Tourist Board, said: “Guests from the UK are very important to us, and we have seen the rebirth and return of many UK air routes to various cities. Croats such as Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Pula and Dubrovnik. ”

Reimposing the restrictions would deal a further blow to the government’s “airlift” system to allow British travelers to travel abroad and return without quarantine to countries known to have the virus under control.

The government’s Covid operations committee will meet on Thursday and a review of the airlift system is scheduled to take place on Friday.

Government sources have pointed to the most recent figures from Spain, where the per capita infection rate is three times that of the UK, as a justification for their decision to impose a de facto travel ban in the country by recommending not to travel except essential travel.

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