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Experts warn foreign summer breaks ‘unlikely’ amid concern over Europe's third Covid wave
21 March 2021, 09:51 | Updated: 21 March 2021, 10:05
Experts have warned of the prospect of an impending third wave of Covid-19 infections in the UK, advising people not to consider overseas holidays even when restrictions ease later this year.
However, there is growing pressure on the government to allow foreign holidays and travel to resume for economic reasons, despite fears of a third wave of coronavirus being imported from Europe.
Brits are currently not allowed to leave the country unless their travel comes under a limited list of exceptions, and all arrivals must isolate.
Health secretary Matt Hancock has said England's roadmap out of lockdown should go ahead as planned despite the concerns. He said: "There is no sign that we won't be able to make progress as set out in the roadmap. Here, thankfully the number of deaths is falling very, very fast, by more than a third a week."
But Professor Mike Tildesley, a member of SAGE, which advises the government on coronavirus, said the chance of a having a holiday abroad is "extremely unlikely" following a surge in covid cases across Europe.
Doctor Tildesley told LBC News that rising case numbers in Europe at the moment could stop European holidays again in 2021.
He said: “The concern is of course what happens in the Summer with international travel. “We run the risk of potentially bringing more of these new variants into the country.
“And if it starts to spread more rapidly and the vaccines are less effective then we really have serious problems going forward.
“To me, domestic summer holidays are very much on the cards if we follow this roadmap through, but international holidays were much more challenging.
“We are going to have a difficult choice to make quite soon. Do we want to be opening up as much as possible domestically or do we want to allow international travel?”
France and Poland started tough new lockdowns yesterday and new restrictions are looming for Germany due to "exponential growth" of the virus. It comes as Europe faces criticism over the rollout of its vaccine programme.
UK third wave 'inevitable' warns epidemiologist
There are reports today that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has threatened to join forces with the French and German governments to block more than 19 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine which are destined for the UK in the coming weeks in the increasingly bitter dispute over vaccines.
Yesterday the UK delivered a new record of administering 711,156 jabs in 24 hours. It means that more than half of all adults have had at least one dose.
More than half the adult population of the UK have now received their first jab.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) March 20, 2021
Many thanks to everyone involved in this fantastic achievement. Let’s keep going! pic.twitter.com/cf9kWThmuM
Boris Johnson hailed the success by tweeting: 'Many thanks to everyone involved in this fantastic achievement. Let's keep going!'
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has hailed the vaccination of more than half the UK's adult population against Covid-19 as a "phenomenal achievement".
Government data up to March 19 suggests that 26,853,407 people aged 18 and over have received a first dose of the jab - around 51% of the population.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it remains "on track" to offer the vaccine to all over-50s by April 15.
Countries across Europe have had to impose tougher restrictions amid a rise in Covid-19 cases, with UK scientists warning overseas holidays this summer will be "extremely unlikely".
Mr Hancock said: "Vaccinating over half of all adults is a phenomenal achievement and is testament to the mammoth efforts of the NHS, GPs, volunteers, local authorities and civil servants in every corner of the UK.
"During April, we will continue to vaccinate those most at risk and around 12 million people will receive their second doses as well.
"It is absolutely crucial people come forward as soon as they are eligible. When you get the call, get the jab, because the more people who are vaccinated the safer we will all be."
Meanwhile, Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Spi-M modelling group which advises the Government, said there was a danger that new variants could jeopardise the vaccination programme later in the year.
Other experts have warned there could be a third wave of Covid-19 infections in the UK and advised people not to consider overseas holidays when restrictions ease later this year.
At a press conference on Friday, First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said it was a question of ‘when, not if’ with respect to a third wave.
He said: “The chief medical officer says to us that a third wave is very likely to happen here in Wales and the question is not whether it will happen it's how it will happen and how we will deal with it.
“And because there are new tools available to us particularly vaccination, then that combined with people continuing to do all the things that we've learned to do the social distancing the hand washing and so on.
“We would be able to cope with a third wave in a way that does not have the same impact as the second wave that we saw during the autumn and the winter not having the same effect on our hospitals, not having the same effect on people falling ill, and of course, we continue to think about that, to prepare for it, and to factor it into all the decisions that we will make about the way in which restrictions in Wales, can be eased over the weeks and months ahead.”