The World Health Organization today declared the Balkan region a ‘hot spot’ for the coronavirus amid growing speculation that Croatia could be added to the UK’s list of quarantine trips tomorrow.
WHO says the Balkans has been a “concern for us since early June” due to an increase in the number of cases, as it urged the region to impose additional measures to “cut transmission in the bud” .
The comments are likely to fuel fears that ministers will add Croatia to the government’s “red list” of travel before the weekend.
That would mean discouraging all but essential travel to the popular tourist destination and forcing returning travelers to self-isolate for 14 days, potentially plunging the vacation plans of thousands of UK tourists into chaos.
There is growing speculation that Croatia could be added to the UK’s quarantine list after an increase in the number of cases. Crowds of people are pictured in Crikvenica on the north Adriatic coast on August 13
Daily number of coronavirus cases in Croatia now above UK government threshold to impose quarantine restrictions at 20 cases per 100,000
Dr Catherine Smallwood told a WHO press conference this morning: “The situation in the Balkans has been worrying us since early June when we started to see cases on the rise and that has been a hot spot under- regional during the summer period. “
She added: “We really need communities to take this into account, take appropriate action both at the national level, in terms of basic contact tracing, identification and isolation of cases and testing of cases. systems that need to be in place.
“And where there are hot spots and increased transmission, additional and targeted measures must be put in place, very quickly, to nip transmission in the bud, prevent it from spreading and maintain the level of transmission. at controllable levels. “
Croatia has seen an upsurge in coronavirus cases over the past week and yesterday the Adriatic nation posted numbers that nearly matched its highest point in August.
The figures are closely monitored by the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
There is widespread speculation in Westminster that the increase in the number of cases will leave ministers with no choice but to treat Croatia the same as Spain, Portugal and France, which have already been struck with travel bans.
Croatia currently has a cumulative rate of 27.4 cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days.
The UK government has set a threshold for imposing quarantine restrictions at 20 cases per 100,000.
Any move to impose quarantine rules on Croatia is likely to wreak havoc on the travel plans of thousands of Britons.
Fears have been expressed that Greece may also be added to the ban list soon as the number of cases increases, but it remains below the threshold of 14.3 cases per 100,000.
The government remains under intense pressure to relax its 14-day quarantine rules.
Airlines and the travel industry believe restrictions could be reduced by introducing coronavirus testing on arrival at airports.
This would see travelers asked to self-isolate until they get their test results, with a negative test and follow-up a few days later, allowing them to return to normal life.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday ministers were working with Heathrow Airport to find a way to test for coronaviruses to reduce the quarantine period.
He told Sky News: “We are working with Heathrow and with other airports on this project.
“The challenge is that the virus can incubate inside your body without showing itself and therefore without a positive test even if you have it.
“The challenge is how to do these tests so that we can have enough confidence to release the quarantine.