Well, it was hinted that the Red List restrictions Countries could return at any time… and they have with six countries being placed back on the list on it.
The government is taking precautionary action against a new COVID-19 variant by introducing travel restrictions on arrivals from the following countries
- South Africa – https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/south-africa
- Botswana – https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/botswana
- Lesotho – https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/lesotho
- Eswatin – https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/eswatini
- Zimbabwe – https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/zimbabwe
- Namibia – https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/namibia
The change goes into effect from midday, Friday 26 November. FCDO travel advice has been updated for travel to these territories, which is now
The FCDO also advises against all but essential travel to these countries with immediate effect.
It comes as Variant B.1.1.529 is declared a Variant under Investigation by the UK Health Security Agency.
According to the Department of Transport
The variant includes a large number of spike protein mutations as well as mutations in other parts of the viral genome. These are potentially biologically significant mutations which may change the behaviour of the virus with regards to vaccines, treatments and transmissibility. More investigation is required.
No cases have been identified in the UK.
Impact and Entry Changes
From midday on Friday 26 November, non-UK and Irish residents who have been in these countries in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England. This does not apply to those who have stayed airside and only transited through any of these countries while changing flights.
UK and Irish residents arriving between midday Friday 26 November and 4 am Sunday 28 November from these six countries will be required to self-isolate at home for 10 days. They must take PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8 post-arrival. These can be NHS PCR tests and passengers should take them even if they have already booked or taken their lateral flow test.
UK and Irish residents arriving from 4 am Sunday must isolate in a government-approved facility for 10 days. During their stay, they will be required to take a coronavirus test on day 2 and day 8. More details here.
Temporary Transit Ban
A temporary ban on commercial and private planes travelling from the six countries will also come into force at midday on Friday until 4 am Sunday to reduce the risk of importing this new variant under investigation while hotel quarantine is stood up. This excludes cargo and freight without passengers.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said:
As part of our close surveillance of variants across the world, we have become aware of the spread of a new potentially concerning variant, which UKHSA has designated a Variant under Investigation.
We are taking precautionary action to protect public health and the progress of our vaccine rollout at a critical moment as we enter winter, and we are monitoring the situation closely.
I want to pay tribute to our world-leading scientists who are working constantly to keep our country safe, and I urge everyone to keep doing their bit by the getting the jab and following public health guidance.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
We’ve always maintained public safety is our number one priority, which is why we’ve kept in place measures which allow us to protect the UK from new variants.
We’re taking this early precautionary action now to protect the progress made across the country, and will continue to keep a close eye on the situation as we continue into the winter.
Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA Chief Executive, said:
Scientists at UKHSA are in constant close collaboration with colleagues around the world to identify and assess variants as soon as they emerge. This is the most significant variant we have encountered to date and urgent research is underway to learn more about its transmissibility, severity and vaccine-susceptibility. The results of these investigations will determine what public health actions may limit the impact of B.1.1.529
This is a clear reminder to everyone that this pandemic is not over, and we all have a responsibility to do what we can to limit transmission and reduce the infection rate and prevent the emergence of new variants. This means coming forward for vaccination as soon as possible and following public health advice. Wear a face covering in crowded places where it’s difficult to avoid coming into close contact with others, try to meet people in well-ventilated areas and seek a test immediately if you have symptoms.
Well – that’s come back fast
The move to impose restrictions again comes after a short period where the UK moved to a vaccinated traveller/managed traveller method of entry. Clearly, it seems this variant is enough for the UK government to take notice and fast action.
According to the government, the first genomes of this variant were uploaded to the international GISAID database on 22 November. Genomes have now been uploaded from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong but the extent of spread is not yet determined.
And it seems the government is taking action.
For those who think travel is normal yet… it isn’t sadly. Apply caution to your travels and have backup plans.
Or at least some spare money for managed quarantine hotels.
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