Nearly a million people arrive in Britain since discovery of Covid's South African variant

NEARLY a million people have arrived in Britain since a deadly new strain of Coronavirus was discovered in South Africa, new figures reveal.

The stats have raised fresh concerns that the variant could undermine the huge success of the vaccine roll-out.

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Only one in every hundred people entering the UK have undertaken hotel quarantine since the rule was introduced.

Labour last night called for an urgent overhaul of the system in the wake of the government figures. They show that 630,000 international travellers arrived on British shores during January – and 237,000 in the last ten days of December.

The new variant set alarm bells ringing after it was found to be much more contagious than the original Covid virus. Surge testing has been deployed in Stockton on Tees and the north London borough of Brent after it was detected there.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas Symonds demanded greater effort to guard against quick-spreading mutations which are likely to come from overseas.

He said: “The Government has been playing fast and loose with the nation’s defense against Covid. We know that importing Covid strains resistant to the vaccine is one of the biggest threats to opening the country up. Yet, even with the variants already discovered the UK Government has been painfully slow to act.

"This shows almost 900,000 people have arrived in the UK between the South African strain being discovered and 31 January. We also now know that only around one per cent of arrivals are undertaking hotel quarantine, since it was introduced. Conservative incompetence is putting people at risk and we urgently need comprehensive hotel quarantine.”


A government spokesman said: “As this virus evolves, so must our defences against it and tougher border measures are a vital tool in helping prevent new variants from travelling into the UK and spreading. 

“The new measures strengthened a regime that already included a number of stringent rules: including it being illegal to travel abroad for holidays and other leisure purposes, people needing negative Covid tests before arriving in the UK, and having strict travel bans in place for countries where there was a risk from known variants.

“Our strengthened border and enforcement regime has been carefully designed to reduce risks and ensure compliance – anyone who has been in a red list country in the 10 days prior to arrival is legally required to book and pay for quarantine in a Government-approved facility.”

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