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expert reaction to all 11 countries being removed from the UK’s travel red list from 4am on Wednesday 15 December 2021

The Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, announced the removal of all eleven countries from the travel Red List effective from 4am Wednesday 15 December.


Prof Rowland Kao, the Sir Timothy O’Shea Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology and Data Science, University of Edinburgh, said:

“As the omicron variant is now widespread across the globe and spreading rapidly throughout the UK, red list travel bans to control omicron spread would be disproportionate.  Travel restrictions remain useful if used proportionately to internal control measures or should we become aware of new variants of concern, not yet prevalent in the UK.  As always, PCR tests of incoming travellers help us to identify as rapidly as possible any new variants that may be coming into the UK and therefore are an important part of an early warning system.  Travel itself represents an area where both inadvertent close contact in airports and close contacts in airplanes having the potential to exacerbate transmission.  Thus any passengers, especially on long haul flights should be aware of physical distancing while travelling as much as possible, as well as being extra aware of possible symptoms upon return, as for some, these might occur more than two days after arrival (the time limit for taking a PCR test).”–2



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