PM's handling of Indian variant 'unsurprisingly dreadful,' says Independent SAGE member

18 May 2021, 19:00

By Fiona Jones

Independent SAGE member Dr Gabriel Scally said the Government's handling of the increasingly prevalent Indian Covid variant is "dreadful", telling LBC he was "amazed" they are "getting it so wrong yet again."

One hundred and ten direct flights from India have landed in the UK in the three and a half weeks since the country was placed on the travel Red List, LBC can reveal.

Analysis of flight data by LBC shows that direct flights from India have continued to land in the UK at a rate of 4.5 per day, despite growing fears about a variant that has spread rapidly and quickly become dominant across much of India.

The Indian Covid variant is set to be the dominant strain in the UK "in the next few days", scientists have said, with the Government struggling to contain cases.

Those reported to have had this strain has has risen by over 75% since Thursday, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirming in the Commons that there are 2,323 cases in the UK, with over five cases in 86 local authority areas.

Read more: Boris Johnson: 'Nothing conclusive to say UK must deviate from roadmap out of lockdown'

Independent SAGE member Professor Gabriel Scally told Eddie Mair, reacting to the LBC exclusive, said the UK Government has dealt with the Indian Covid variant "dreadfully."

“Unsurprisingly so, they’ve really had a big problem with getting to grips with the whole idea of stopping the virus getting to the UK right from the very beginning.

“They were taken to pieces by the Home Affairs Select Committee last summer. Their complete failure to stop the virus coming here at the beginning of the pandemic was torn to shreds.

“It’s just amazing.”

Read more: Top clinician suspicious at timing of India red listing

He branded claims that the UK has a world-leading quarantine system as "absolutely ridiculous" and expressed concern about the impact of flights from India.

"Last month there was one flight from New Delhi to Hong Kong, and that resulted in 56 cases…which was about one third of passengers."

"I’m amazed the Government are getting it so wrong yet again."

Dr Gabriel told Eddie he took part in a session with All-Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus and a Border Force official claimed staff are detecting 100 or more fraudulent PCR test certificates a day.

The Home Office have been contacted to verify this figure and has not responded at the time of publication.