Passengers arriving into the UK from South Africa and other countries placed on the travel red list over concerns about the omicron variant were not tested or quarantined upon arrival, the health secretary has confirmed.
Six countries in southern Africa were added to the list on Friday, November 26, with flights temporarily banned and those permitted to enter the UK required to undergo mandatory 10-day quarantine.
However, those measures only came in to force from 4.00am the next day, allowing hundreds of passengers who arrived in the UK from those countries on Friday to leave the airport without being tested and without any requirement to isolate.
Following news that as many as 10% of passengers who arrived in Amsterdam on a flight from South Africa on Friday had tested positive for Covid-19, Sajid Javid was questioned over whether the UK may have allowed passengers carrying the omicron variant to slip through the cracks.
During an appearance on The Andrew Marr Show, Javid was asked to confirm whether passengers had been left to ‘disperse around the country without being tested’, to which he responded that, until Saturday, ‘they would have got home in the normal way’.
However, despite acknowledging there had been no testing, Javid rejected claims that the UK was not prepared, saying ‘it’s fair to say that, as the UK, we could not have acted more swiftly’.
He added that passengers who had arrived from countries added to the red list prior to news of the ban had been contacted and asked to take a test. There have been two confirmed cases of the omicron variant in the UK, both of which are linked and were traced to southern Africa.
A further four countries were added to the list on Saturday, bringing the total number of southern African nations to see travel to the UK temporarily banned to 10.
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Topics: News, COVID-19, Now, Omicron, Sajid Javid, South Africa, testing