Eddie Mair 4pm - 6pm
Government 'gambling' by keeping borders open, virologist tells James O'Brien
8 February 2021, 15:39 | Updated: 8 February 2021, 15:40
The Government is "gambling" by leaving the borders open, a leading public health expert tells James O'Brien, as 147 cases of the South African Covid variant are recorded in the UK.
Professor Devi Sridhar, who is the Chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, made the remark amid reports that there are Government ministers pushing for a temporary closure of all UK borders to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The debate around how the Government should handle UK borders has come under more spotlight after the number of cases in England of the South Africa Covid-19 has risen to 147.
Professor Devi said: "They're gambling now leaving the borders open. And when you gamble with the virus, you're going to lose."
Revealing how she would approach the Covid crisis going forward, the Professor said she would "improve our test and trace system" and ensure people are paid to self-isolate.
She then said that, if in charge, she would "manage quarantine for anyone arriving in" and also "push the vaccine".
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has urged the British public to keep faith in the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab amid concerns about its effectiveness against the South African coronavirus variant.
A study found it may not be able to prevent mild or moderate illness caused by the South African strain of coronavirus.
South Africa has paused the use of the vaccine and scientists say people here may need a booster jab by the autumn.
This weekend the UK's total number of recorded Covid deaths hit 112,465 - one of the highest in the world to date.
But the figure is the lowest since the end of December and follows a significant drop in the number of people becoming infected and hospitalised.