Passengers wearing face masks arrive at London's Heathrow Airport. Pictures: AP
Passengers wearing face masks arrive at London's Heathrow Airport. Pictures: AP

UK mulls tougher testing for international arrivals as virus variants spread

By Reuters Time of article published Feb 9, 2021

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London - Britain is looking at greater testing of all people who have arrived from abroad while they are self-isolating to defend against new variants of the virus that causes Covid-19, a minister said on Tuesday.

Airlines have been brought to their knees by the pandemic, with travel restrictions forcing once fast-growing brands like Norwegian to fight for survival while established names like British Airways have raised cash and laid off thousands of staff.

ITV reported that all international arrivals would have to be tested for Covid-19 on the second and eighth days of their self-isolation.

"We are constantly looking at refining our approach to the border simply because there is a risk from new variants coming from other countries around the world," Environment Secretary George Eustice told Times Radio.

"Until we have fully rolled out the vaccine and identified a way to be able to update the vaccine to meet new challenges we do have to exercise some caution about international travel," he said.

Arrivals in England must currently have proof of a negative Covid-19 test in the past three days and then self isolate for 10 days from departure.

The British government is due to require travellers arriving from Covid-19 hot spots to quarantine in hotels from February 15. Travellers from countries deemed high risk such as South Africa would have to stay for 10 days in such hotels.

But the government is still in talks with hotels on the measures, which were introduced in places such as Australia in March 2020.

"Those discussions haven't yet concluded so there aren't hotels yet," Eustice told LBC Radio.

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