Coronavirus: Countries with second waves will go on quarantine list 'straight away'

29 July 2020, 11:59

Oliver Dowden warned other countries with second spikes will be put on the quarantine list
Oliver Dowden warned other countries with second spikes will be put on the quarantine list. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Any country that has a second spike in coronavirus cases will be put on the UK's quarantine list "straight away," Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has warned.

The minister said the government would be willing to emulate its new policy towards people returning from Spain if there is a risk of importing Covid-19 infections from elsewhere.

Anyone returning from the country, which is a favourite for British holidaymakers, must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival due to a rise in Spanish cases.

Mr Dowden told Sky News it would be "foolhardy" if the government did not impose such restrictions "if we think there is a risk" of rising coronavirus infections in an affected country.

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"We cannot risk importing it again from other countries where incidences are rising," he said.

The culture secretary added: "We are at a very risky moment with this pandemic. So long as you're aware of that risk and comfortable with that risk, go ahead and take your break."

He then said: "If we know that risk is there we will impose those restrictions straight away."

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Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden on decision to quarantine those returning from Spain

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari, Mr Dowden was quizzed on concern about the government adopting a "one size fits all" approach to Spain when the Canary and the Balearic Islands are geographically different to the mainland.

Nick Ferrari accused the government of using "a blunt tool" to "effectively write off a whole country" when the Midlands are not shut down following Leicester's local lockdown.

Mr Dowden replied: "I appreciate people's frustration over this. People have had a pretty dreadful year in many respects and deserve a break and want a break.

"The reasons why we're doing this is to stop us, as we've got the virus under control here, importing cases from other countries where it's rising, in this case Spain.

"We will continue to look and review to ensure how we can minimise the disruption for people, but at the moment we are taking a whole country approach, as we are around the world.

"As we develop our approach, of course we will keep other considerations under review."

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On the issue of testing people who arrive at airports he said the government had been examining the idea but it was "not a silver bullet" as people can initially test negative for Covid-19 despite carrying the disease in an incubated form, giving them the false assurance to head out and, consequently, spread the virus.

He added: "We are reviewing all of these things because we want to minimise the disruption, we want to ensure people can go on holiday but we are not convinced at the moment that that would be sufficient to give that assurance that we're not spreading the virus in the UK."

Mr Dowden said the decision to announce any new restrictions on other countries will be taken following an assessment by the Joint Biosecurity Centre - set up at the start of the outbreak - and England's chief medical officer.

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