'Why are we letting planes in?': Furious caller's outburst as Indian variant rises in UK

18 May 2021, 14:18

By Fiona Jones

This caller was furious that the Government is still permitting travel from "red list" countries in to the UK, as the Indian Covid variant is rapidly on the rise.

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'

Caller Julie from Islington told Shelagh Fogarty, "I'm so angry I can't even tell you. I, like everybody else, has been in lockdown since last year looking forward to everything opening. Done my bit, all my family, we haven't got together.

"I looked on the website for arrivals in to Heathrow this morning - there was six from India, there was one from Pakistan, there's another one from India later on.

"Why are we still allowing these countries in? Why are we allowing red lists in?"

Shelagh verified that Julie was calling for people flying from red list countries to enter the UK's borders, to which she vehemently agreed.

"I don't understand it, it's driving me insane!" Julie said, "Why don't they open another terminal and put all red lists through another terminal? At the moment everyone's going through the same terminal."

Shelagh cited her own journey back from Japan following the Fukushima nuclear plant exploding, and she was tested for radiation instantly and was separated off from other inbound flights.

Julie continued that her friend works in the quarantine hotel in Heathrow: "They've had people abscond, they've been bundled off into cars, the police have had to be involved, the police have had to track them down."

She continued that many people are claiming health conditions, such as heart attacks, which her friend believes is a method to get themselves exempt.

Tragically, she also said that allegedly some are trying to commit suicide.

Shelagh asked: "For you it's not about controlling them once they arrive here, for you it's about stopping them coming here at all?"

"Why are you letting them come? I wish he'd tell us!" exclaimed Julie.

Meanwhile, a the chair of the cross-party Covid inquiry has said it must be examined whether Boris Johnson’s decision to delay adding India to the travel “red list” of countries was influenced by his desire to start trade talks with Delhi.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has insisted the decision to wait 17 days before adding it to the list of countries requiring mandatory quarantine was not political, while Bangladesh and Pakistan were added despite having significantly fewer case rates.