Boris Johnson has warned there are signs of a “second wave” of coronavirus in Europe, as he defended a 14-day quarantine on travelers from Spain.
The PM said the govt had to be swift and it will take action when necessary.
It comes after the Spanish prime minister called the UK’s decision to vary the principles for Spain “unjust”.
Pedro Sánchez said tourists in most regions in Spain would be safer from coronavirus than within the UK.
The UK is advising against all non-essential visit Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands. It also removed Spain and its islands from the list of nations that are exempt from the 14-day quarantine rule.
Visit to Nottinghamshire
Speaking during a visit to Nottinghamshire, Mr. Johnson said: “What we have to do is take swift and decisive action where we think that the risks are starting to bubble up again.
“Let’s be absolutely clear about what’s happening in Europe, amongst a number of our European friends, I’m afraid you’re beginning to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic.”
It came as the UK reported a further 119 coronavirus deaths – taking the official number of deaths so far to 45,878 – but the daily figure is typically higher on Tuesdays due to delays in reporting deaths at the weekend.
An additional 581 positive cases have also been reported across the UK, a small dip in recent days.
Stick with guidance
Asked about reports that the 14-day period could be reduced – as reported by the Daily Telegraph – Mr. Johnson said: “We are always looking at ways in which we can mitigate the impact of the quarantine”.
“At the instant, you’ve got need to persist with the guidance that we are giving, we’ve given the guidance now about Spain and other places around the world.”
When asked whether the 14-day quarantine period could be cut, transport minister Baroness Vere said the government was “looking at a range of options” including “testing people on certain days” after they arrive.
Ministers are also “certainly looking” at the idea of restrictions on travel to regions rather than whole countries, she said during an urgent question in the House of Lords.
Travel industry sources later told that the government was close to backing a trial of double-testing arrivals from at-risk countries – allowing those who test negative twice a few days apart to leave quarantine early.
Mr Johnson said if the united kingdom did see signs of a second wave in other countries, it had been the government’s duty to prevent travellers from returning and spreading the disease.
“It’s vital that when people are returning from abroad if they’re returning from an area where I’m afraid there’s another outbreak, they need to enter quarantine,” he said.
“That’s why we’ve taken the action that we’ve and that we will continue, throughout the summer, to require such action where it’s necessary.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon echoed Mr Johnson’s concerns, saying “we are currently seeing a worrying resurgence of COVID” in European countries.
She warned potential travellers not to assume quarantine measures would remain the same at the time of booking a holiday as when they returned, adding: “I wouldn’t be booking a foreign holiday right now.”
The Department of Health said there had been a handful of suspected cases this month where a person had tested positive for the coronavirus after returning to the UK from Spain.
But it added these were not a factor in the evidence presented to ministers and that the decision to reintroduce a quarantine for arrivals from Spain was taken because of rising infection rates there.
In an interview with the Telecinco TV network, Spain’s Mr Sánchez said his government was “talking with British authorities to undertake to urge them to reconsider” the choice.
He said the united kingdom had made an “error” by considering the infection rate for the entire country.
He added that “64.5% of the new cases registered are in two territories” and in most of Spain the prevalence of Covid-19 was “very much inferior to the numbers registered in the United Kingdom”.
The rate of infection in Spain is 47.2 cases per 100,000 people, while the united kingdom is at 15, consistent with the newest figures from the ECU Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
While the outbreak remains in check in many parts of Spain, certain areas – especially Catalonia within the north-east, which incorporates the town Barcelona, and therefore the neighbouring region of Aragón – have seen an enormous spike in infections.
According to data from the Spanish government, as of Monday, the infection rates in the Balearic and Canary Islands were 9.22 and 7.06 per 100,000 respectively.
The same data showed infection rates in Catalonia, which includes Barcelona, was 132.4 per 100,000, and 28.21 in Madrid.
Local government minister Simon Clarke said: “we’ve seen a very sharp increase in cases in Spain”.
“A 75% increase in cases reported between the centre of last week and therefore the end of last week. That’s why we took the action that we’ve .”