Spain travel warning as country tops list of UK Covid infections after holiday surge
More than one in 35 of all travellers arriving in Britain from Spain test positive for Covid-19, according to new figures which suggest the country is the holiday hotspot most likely to be hit with new curbs.
Last week saw a surge in arrivals at the UK’s borders, as the start of the school holidays led to the largest number of people travelling abroad since the start of this year. A total of 194,452 people came in to the country from amber or red list countries, a rise of 40 per cent on the week before.
Everyone arriving from outside the British Isles must take a coronavirus test within the first two days of their arrival. Among those coming from amber list countries – which until the weekend included nearly all European holiday destinations – 1.2 per cent tested positive, similar to the rate of infection in the UK population as a whole.
The rate among red list arrivals, who have to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days, was higher at 1.9 per cent in a sign that those countries still pose a higher risk of infection.
The data from NHS Test and Trace also showed that for arrivals from some of the most popular holiday hotspots including France and Germany, the rate of positive tests in July was less than 1 per cent. Portugal stood at 1.5 per cent and Greece at 1.5 per cent.
Spain had the highest level of infections, with 2.9 per cent of travellers from the country testing positive at some point in the first 10 days after their arrival in the UK. Before the last review of the “traffic light” classifications last week, Spain was said to be at risk of moving on to the red list because of its high infection rate and fears over the circulation of variants.
The next review is not due for another fortnight and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has guaranteed he will not make any changes to the current list before then. A decision on whether to impose tighter restrictions on Spain at that point will be taken on the basis of the latest data analysed by the Joint Biosecurity Centre.
For travellers arriving from red list countries, the cost of compulsory hotel quarantine has risen as of Thursday from £1,750 to £2,285 for a single person, with a lower additional cost for extra adults and children. The red list is targeted at countries which are seen to pose a high risk of allowing dangerous new variants to spread through the UK, as happened with the Delta strain after it was imported from India.
A large number of positive tests submitted by travellers arriving in the UK are no longer having their genome sequenced, according to official statistics, in an apparent sign that many infected people now carry such a low viral load it is impossible for technology to analyse in full. This may be linked to the success of vaccines in controlling Covid-19 even when double-jabbed people do end up contracting the virus.
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