Virologist 'very worried' about reopening travel with PM's 'confusing' traffic light system

5 April 2021, 15:32 | Updated: 5 April 2021, 18:30

By Fiona Jones

Virologist Professor Lawrence Young tells LBC he is "very worried" about the UK opening up international travel alongside the PM's "confusing" traffic light system, which he will be revealing today.

Boris Johnson is set to unveil his new traffic light system for foreign travel in today's 5pm Downing Street press conference - but people in England are still advised not to book summer holidays abroad.

When travel is permitted, a red, amber or green rating will be assigned to countries, with Covid tests required pre-departure and post-arrival from all destinations.

Travel from green countries will not require quarantine, while arrivals from red and amber countries will still be required to quarantine or self-isolate upon arrival.

Each country will be assigned a risk level based on a range of factors, including vaccination numbers, case rates, Covid variants and the country's "access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing".

However virologist Professor Lawrence Young did not share confidence in these measures: "I'm very worried about it, because it's very likely we will bring the virus back again and it sounds to me it's a very complex system."

Read more: Border Force staff 'demoralised' as thousands of tourists enter UK each day

He continued, "How you work it effectively, how you guarantee the quality assurance of PCR tests in other countries, for instance, is a concern.

"I think travelling through airports in different countries are also an opportunity for viruses to spread - and of course we've got to make sure that whatever we do, we don't bring in the dreaded virus variants into the country.

"I worry about the traffic light system both in terms of its workability and also it's very confusing."

Professor Lawrence stated that Covid is "raging" through Europe, an extremely popular continent for British tourists, and "they're having trouble vaccinating the population."

"We're seeing in some countries increased rates of infection, particularly with the South African virus variant of concern. I think travelling to those countries are going to be very very challenging."

He questioned whether it is feasible to practice a social distancing and Covid-free method of plane travel, calling for the unfolding of the aviation industry to be done in a "very careful way."

Read more: Twice-weekly Covid tests for all in England to stop outbreaks 'in their tracks'

Read more: What time is Boris Johnson's press conference and what will he say?