Scientist who reports to SAGE publicly questions gov's quarantine travel rules as 'not useful'

A SCIENTIST who reports to SAGE has publicly questioned the Government’s quarantine travel rules as “not useful”.

Professor Robert Dingwall cast serious doubts over the 14-day quarantine rule and suggested it will have very little impact.

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The Nottingham Trent University academic is a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), which reports to Sage.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We are not seeing new clusters that are taking off from people who have been travelling abroad.

"I think we would really need to get the level in this country significantly further down before quarantine started to become a useful measure.

"That I think, even then, we would have to see something that is targeted on countries with a significantly higher level of community transmission than ourselves – and there aren't too many of those around, I'm afraid.

"If you're a holiday destination in Europe in a country that has worked really hard to get its levels of community transmission down and you're perhaps looking forward to seeing the end of the virus circulating, apart from in isolated outbreaks, then you have to wonder would they really want to welcome a load of British tourists from a country which hasn't fully got this virus under control yet?"

Priti Patel yesterday stuck to her guns over her hated 14-day quarantine plans – but gave hope to millions that holidays could be still on the cards with "travel corridors" or rapid virus tests at airports.

The Home Secretary has faced a huge backlash from Tory MPs and tourism bosses who believe the moves, which will come in from Monday, will harm the collapsing British travel industry and cost jobs.

The plan includes:

  • Travellers to the UK from Monday will have to quarantine in one specific address for 14 days when they come into the UK
  • They will have to fill in a form and have a receipt with them to prove they've handed over their contact details to authorities
  • They will face spot checks and could face £1,000 fines if they break them
  • But they will be allowed to break the two-week coronavirus quarantine to pop out for food, attend funerals and can use public transport
  • Those from the Common Travel Area  – Ireland, the Channel Islands and The Isle of Man – will be exempt
  • Posties, lorry drivers and diplomats will be exempt from having to isolate
  • The Government confirmed there was a list of exemptions to the controversial rules – but said these were only in case of an emergency
  • The measures will be reviewed every three weeks – starting in the week of June 28

Boris Johnson gave a robust defence of the measures at the Downing Street conference yesterday but also pledged to “explore the possibility of international travel corridors”.

The Prime Minister said: “Now that we’re getting the virus under control in the UK, there is a risk cases from abroad begin once again to make up a greater proportion of overall cases.

“We need to take steps now to manage that risk of these imported cases triggering a second peak.”

But even the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance suggested this was the wrong time for quarantine.

He said the controls were most effective during the early stages of a pandemic but added it was for the politicians to “make the policy and make the timing decisions”.

Angry MPs including former PM Theresa May stood up to attack the Government over the plan before it was even revealed.

Mrs May blasted: "Instead of bringing in measures to close Britain off from the rest of the world, why is the Government not taking a lead in developing international aviation health screening standard to save jobs and ensure Britain is open for businesses?"

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