UK confirms 10-day hotel quarantines to discourage travel
London, UK

UK confirms 10-day hotel quarantines to discourage travel

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out tougher measures to prevent the arrival of new variants of the coronavirus into England, confirming plans for a 10-day quarantine in hotels or other government-provided accommodation for travellers from high-risk countries.

He said discussions are taking place for the restrictions to apply in the other U.K. nations, too.

On Tuesday, the U.K. became the fifth country in the world to record more than 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths. The U.K. is the smallest country to breach that threshold, and it has one of the world’s worst COVID-19-related mortality rates.

Johnson has come under renewed fire for his handling of the pandemic, with many arguing that he has been too slow in making tough decisions and sidelined scientific advice, particularly in December when a new, more virulent, variant of the coronavirus was identified in London and the southeast of England.

Critics argue that one failure was not imposing a lockdown throughout England right after scientists informed him on Dec. 18 that the new variant was up to 70% more infectious than the original coronavirus strain.

The lockdown only came into force on Jan. 5, a delay that critics say fuelled the rapid increase in new coronavirus infections around the turn of the year, and the subsequent acute pressure on hospitals and deaths.

“Fifty thousand people have died since Nov. 11 – 50,000 deaths in 77 days,” said Keir Starmer, the leader of the main opposition Labour Party. “In isolation, any of these mistakes are perhaps understandable. Taken together it’s a damning indictment of how the government has handled this pandemic.’’

Though there’s growing evidence to show that the lockdown is bringing down new cases, infections are still running at relatively high levels and would be liable to rise sharply again if restrictions are relaxed too soon and too much.

SOURCE: The Associated Press