Travellers from Greece will not need to quarantine in England as Wales takes urgent measures

Travellers arriving in England from Greece are not yet being told to quarantine for 14 days, the Department for Transport said after the Scottish Government announced the requirement for those arriving in Scotland.

Tuesday, 1st September 2020, 8:26 pm

Travellers from Greece will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days on arrival in Scotland from Thursday, September 3.

It comes after a significant rise in cases of coronavirus being imported from the Mediterranean country, the Scottish Government said.

These new rules in Scotland follow swift measures put in place to quarantine passengers on a flight from Zante to Cardiff tonight.

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Travellers arriving in England from Greece are not yet being told to quarantine for 14 days, the Department for Transport said

Passengers landing at Cardiff International Airport tonight on a flight are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days due to the risk of spreading coronavirus.

In a written statement, health and social services minister Vaughan Gething said: “In the last week our NHS Wales Test Trace Protect service has identified multiple separate clusters linked to the Greek island of Zante which currently has no returning quarantine restrictions.

“There are currently six clusters amounting to over 30 cases in the last week from four flights, of which two of these flights landed in England.

“There are concerns from our public health teams that the current advice and control measures for returning travellers are insufficient.

“Unfortunately our consultants in communicable disease control have several examples of Covid-19 positive travellers who have not self-isolated on return to Wales. That is a real concern for all of us.

“Public Health Wales have expressed direct concerns about the public health risk posed by passengers returning to Cardiff this evening from Zante.

“I share that concern. It is almost certain that travellers returning to Wales from areas of higher Covid-19 incidence will lead to further seeding of infections within Wales.

“Travel into Wales from mainland Europe drove the first wave of Covid-19.”

He added: "Without action it is likely that there will be significant health and economic impacts arising from new clusters of infections and renewed disease transmission in Wales.

“I have therefore agreed the following actions: All passengers on the flight from Zante to Cardiff this evening will be given a letter before leaving the airport requesting that they self-isolate for 14 days due to the risk of unknowingly spreading Covid-19 to others.

"All passengers will be offered a Covid-19 antigen test within 48 hours of their return and will be offered a repeat test eight days after returning home.

“I am aware that travellers may be returning to Wales from Zante this evening or tomorrow from other airports outside of Wales.

“I ask that these travellers self-isolate for 14 days on their return and request a test once they arrive home and to repeat the test eight days after returning home.

“In addition, I have pressed for an early meeting with the UK Government and devolved nations tomorrow to consider the latest assessment of risk by the Joint Biosecurity Centre.

“There is an obvious need for us to consider the potential for changes to the Regulations in Wales which would require travellers arriving in the UK from Greece and possibly elsewhere to self-isolate on their return.

“This is a dynamic situation and I will continue to review what measures may be required in the future.”

Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “We are in the midst of a global pandemic and the situation in many countries can change suddenly. Therefore, people should think very hard before committing to non-essential travel abroad.

“With Scotland’s relatively low infection rate, importation of new cases from Greece is a significant risk to public health.

“We continue to closely monitor the situation in all parts of the world and base the decisions we make on the scientific evidence available.

“Regular discussions continue with the other three governments in the UK.

“Requiring travellers arriving from a non-exempt country to quarantine for 14 days on arrival is vital to helping prevent transmission of the virus and to suppress it.”

The Scottish Government said evidence of virus importation, especially from the Greek islands, has led to the country being removed from the exemption list on public health grounds.

It is believed prevalence of Covid-19 in Greece remains lower than 20 per 100,000, but a number of cases in Scotland can be traced back to travel to the Mediterranean country.

Countries tend to be added to the quarantine list when the figure rises above 20 per 100,000.

Scotland’s chief medical officer Gregor Smith said: “There is a compelling public health risk around importation of the virus, especially given the number of imported cases linked to the Greek islands.

“The flow of travel between Scotland and Greece, and the behaviour we have seen from some of those travellers, means that on public health grounds there is a strong case – supported by public health directors – to remove Greece from the exemption list.”