Gabriel Scally, a member of Independent SAGE, a group of scientists who provide alternative advice to the government’s own science panel, said he was really concerned about the Indian’s risk. coronavirus variant in Europe.
He told Sky News: “There is great concern about this particular variant because of its much more transmissible characteristics and it has yet to really take off in Europe.
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“If it takes off in Europe I think we are going through a very difficult time because of course vaccination levels are not at the same level as in the UK, in much of Europe.
“And at the same time, we’re reducing travel restrictions and a lot more people are disappearing on vacation and coming back without necessarily having a truly managed quarantine. And we know that self-isolation doesn’t work.
“I’m really worried about a big wave in Europe if this very transmissible variant or another that’s coming up can take off. So a good quarantine system at our borders is absolutely essential. “
Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of The Wellcome Trust, also warned that there was “a risk” that the Indian variant could be transmitted by people traveling outside the UK.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “I think travel still needs to be very careful and only when absolutely essential. “
So far, the only European destinations available to British holidaymakers other than Gibraltar are Portugal and Iceland.
But the government has said it is keeping other destinations under review, and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it expects the green list of lowest-risk countries “will grow over time to as the situation improves globally, which means that new opportunities for international travel will open up ”. .
The Daily Telegraph reported that EU ambassadors are expected to sign a plan on Wednesday to allow British holidaymakers to travel to Europe without having to take a COVID test or quarantine.
Thousands of people have left on international flights after the lifting of the overseas holiday ban for Britons, much to the relief of travel agencies.
As Sky News spoke to travelers on Monday after the ‘Stay in UK’ regulation ended, it was clear that people were also heading to Amber List countries, despite a government warning not to do so .
Health Secretary Matt Hancock underlined this when he told Times Radio that Orange List destinations – which includes Spain, France, Italy and Greece – are “places where you shouldn’t go unless you have an absolutely compelling reason ”.
People traveling to any of the 169 Orange countries are required to quarantine themselves at home upon return, pass a series of COVID tests and complete a passenger locator form.
As of May 10, as well as in the UK and India, the most transmissible version of the Indian variant, B.1.617.2, has been detected according to the European Center for Disease Control in the US (192) , in Singapore (91), Australia (58), Germany (31), Japan (20), Denmark (18), Bahrain (13), Belgium (12), France (12), Ireland (12), Switzerland (10 ), New Zealand (9), Italy (5), Poland (5), China (4), Spain (3), Sweden (3), Indonesia (2), Netherlands (2), Aruba (1) , Austria (1), Canada (1), Greece (1), Hong Kong (1), Luxembourg (1), Norway (1), Romania (1), Slovenia (1).
Many more cases are thought to have actually occurred in these and other countries.
The ECDC found that the proportion of cases involving the Indian variant increased sharply in France, Ireland and Belgium and increased in several other countries.
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Meanwhile, first-dose vaccination rates in Europe range from around 10% in Bulgaria to around 65% in Malta, according to Our World In Data, with most countries between 20 and 40%.
In Germany, health officials quarantined residents of two high-rise buildings in a German city on Tuesday after several people tested positive for the Indian variant.
Officials said “there are currently several infections with the Indian variant virus” in the western town of Velbert, with local broadcaster WDR reporting that around 200 people in the two buildings have been affected.
A campaign is underway in 200 Greek islands to increase vaccination rates to ensure they are ready to accept tourists over the next summer. Currently, around a quarter of Greeks have received their first dose.