June 02, 2020
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Test And Trace Could Replace Quarantine For Travellers, Top Scientist Suggests
Holidaymakers could submit themselves to Coronavirus testing and contact tracing rather than being forced into quarantine on their return to the UK, a senior government scientist has suggested.
Government testing tsar Professor John Newton said plans for a mandatory 14-day quarantine, which are opposed by business groups and some Tory MPs, could eventually be replaced.
The proposals have generated strong opposition due to fears they could damage the economy.
Some MPs are instead calling for quarantine-free so-called “air bridges” with lower risk countries.
Health secretary Matt Hancock acknowledged the idea had been floated but declined to say whether any countries had expressed an interest.
Newton said that, for now, “caution has won the day” on the government’s scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage), which has recommended quarantine.
But he gave hope for Britons eyeing up a summer holiday as lockdown restrictions are eased in the UK and across Europe, by suggesting they could be tested on their return and freed from quarantine if they test negative.He told the Downing Street daily briefing: “Just like in this country, if somebody might be at risk of having the virus we need them to be isolated during any period when they might be infectious.
“And if people are coming into the country, then they really have to be treated as an unknown and therefore there’s a quarantine.
“There are two reasons why we might not do that: that would be if the risk of them having the virus when they come to our country is so low that we would just take the chance – that the chances of them becoming infectious are very low – and I think at the moment the judgement is that it is too early to say that and therefore it is better to be cautious for people travelling.
“And secondly if we are able to very quickly respond with a test and trace programme then we could cover it in that way – so if travellers are able to be tested and self-isolate in response to contact tracing just like a domestic new case then that would also be a way of dealing with it.
“At the moment I think caution has won the day and Sage’s advice is that quarantine is appropriate.”
On air bridges, Hancock said: “I know that some countries have been mentioned in the media but that is a piece of work that is being done by the Home Office and the DfT [Department for Transport] and I’m not going to tread on the toes of my colleagues.”
Former transport minister Stephen Hammond is among Tory MPs calling for the plan to quarantine all people arriving from outside the UK to be scrapped.
The Tory MP told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme that air bridges would be a “sensible, targeted response” between low-risk countries.
“I think the idea of air bridges are the right way forward,” he added.
“I think, as we’ve seen across the world, people are taking measures out of the lockdown and this targeted approach would be a much more sensible way to behave.”
But housing minister Simon Clarke said the two-week quarantine period for new entrants to the UK will be enforced from June 8, despite some backbench opposition.
The MP told BBC Breakfast: “This is a temporary, time-limited measure to make sure that we avoid that risk manifesting itself.
“It is very clear that as of Monday, June 8, a two-week quarantine is in place for people coming into the UK from abroad and that needs to be understood very clearly.
“It will obviously depend on progress and we all want these restrictions to be lifted as soon as it’s safe to do so.”Related... BAME People Are More Likely To Die Of Coronavirus Than White People Jacob Rees-Mogg Forces MPs Into 'Absurd' Giant Socially Distanced Queue To Vote UK Stats Watchdog Slams Matt Hancock's 'Misleading' Testing Figures
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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

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