Too soon to start planning holidays, says Professor Van Tam

The more elaborate your summer holiday plans, the more likely you’ll have to cancel them, Professor Van Tam warns

  • England’s deputy chief medical officer says it’s too soon to start planning trips
  • Professor Jonathan Van Tam told the news briefing it would be a guessing game
  • He said any easing of lockdown restrictions would have to take place ‘gradually’ 

England’s deputy chief medical officer has warned against organising elaborate holiday this year as it is still too soon to say whether or not they should start making plans.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam was asked about holidays and said he could not give a proper answer as the data is not yet available.

Speaking at the No 10 news briefing, he said: ‘The more elaborate your plans are for summer holidays, in terms of crossing borders, in terms of household mixing, given where we are now, I think we just have to say the more you are stepping into making guesses about the unknown at this point.’

He said it was too soon to say to what extent people could begin to start planning summer holidays. 

‘I can’t give people a proper answer at this point because we don’t yet have the data. It’s just too early.’

He said any easing of lockdown restrictions in England would have to take place ‘gradually’ and that contemplating what will happen in summer is stepping into the realm of a guessing game.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, has warned Britons against making elaborate holiday plans as it is too soon to tell what will be allowed this year

Professor Van Tam said restrictions on crossing borders and mixing households could still be in place this summer as he said it is too soon to advise Britain on summer holiday possibilities

Prof Van-Tam added: ‘Public health counter measures, non-pharmaceutical interventions, social distancing restrictions, they will have to be released gradually.

‘How quickly they can be released will depend upon three things – the virus, the vaccine and the extent to which the public obey the rules that are in place, which thankfully the vast majority always do.’

Prof Van-Tam added: ‘The key with this coronavirus is again through vaccination, to take the whole curve and shift it to the left, so the vast majority of the illness is an illness that is manageable in the community – as opposed to causing enormous pressure on our hospitals.

‘And we can do that through vaccination, and if we do that we open up a whole way of living normally – much more normally – again in the future.’

It comes as Department of Health figures show another 333 Covid victims were recorded today, the lowest 24-hour toll since December 27 and a drop of 18 per cent on the 406 last Monday.

Another 14,104 infections were also added to the official tally. The daily figure has dropped by a quarter week-on-week, with today’s number lower than at any time since December 8.

Analysis shows infection rates are lower than at any time since before Christmas in all four nations of the UK.

While the big picture shows infections are falling in most parts of the country, the decline is slow and positive tests were still rising in 17 areas in the week ending February 3.

One of those areas was Rutland in the Midlands, where new infections more than doubled from 180 per 100,000 people to 386.

And in another glimmer of hope that Britain could be freed from lockdown restrictions within weeks, another 278,988 people got their first dose of a vaccine yesterday.

Despite being one of the slowest days of the rollout so far, it means 12.3million Britons have now been immunised.

Meanwhile, Britain’s hotel quarantine scheme came under fresh criticism on Sunday when it emerged 35 countries where mutant coronavirus strains have been found are not on the list. 

Last week, the Government confirmed that all passengers from 33 ‘red list’ countries would have to quarantine for ten days in a hotel from February 15.

But an analysis carried out by the World Health Organisation has found dozens of countries where the highly-infectious South African and Brazilian variants have been found are not on the list. 

They include Austria, Denmark, France, Greece, Japan, Kenya, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada and the United States.

Labour Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds reacted with fury at the news, branding the Government’s quarantine measures ‘dangerously inadequate’.   

Scientists also said the oversight was ‘not good enough’, adding that the virus ‘spreads like wildfire’.

The WHO analysis, which was reported by the Sunday Times, also found that the Brazilian Covid strain has been found in ten nations, six of which have not been added to the UK red list.

As well as South Africa and Brazil, nations which are also on the list include Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Rwanda and Botswana.

But of the 41 countries which the WHO’s report said the South African strain had spread to, 29 of them do not feature on Britain’s red list. 

Overall, it means arrivals from 35 counties were more infectious strains which could beat or limit the effect of the available coronavirus vaccines will be free to avoid the hotel scheme when they land in Britain.

Instead, they will be trusted to quarantine at home for ten days.

Which countries are not currently on the red list but have reported cases of the South African variant

Austria

Austria, has, according to latest data, recorded 75 cases of the South African variant and 25 of the British variant.

It has recently warned against non-essential travel to its Alpine province of Tyrol because of an outbreak of the so-called South African variant of the coronavirus there, the government said in a statement on Monday. 

Denmark

The numbers for Denmark are less clear. The first case of the South African variant in Denmark was on January 16, but there have been no reports since.

Denmark has recently announced that everyone entering the country through land or ports would be subject to a coronavirus test on arrival.

After the test, the person has to undergo a 10-day quarantine at home. 

France

According to reports in France, 40 South-African variant cases and 299 UK variant cases. 

France is said to be tightening rules in a bid to stop the South African and Brazilian variants of Covid-19 taking hold.

Canada

Canada first reported the identification of a South African variant six days ago and has today recorded its first case of the Brazilian variant.

Last week, the area of British Columbia reported 10 cases of the U.K. and South African coronavirus variants, bringing the total number to 28 infections. 

Yesterday, the first two cases of Brazil and South Africa variants were reported in Toronto.

Greece

The South African variant was first detected in Greece at the end of last month.

It was discovered in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city and capital of the region of Macedonia.

Japan

Japan detected its first case of the South African variant at the end of December.

The variant was discovered in a woman in her 30s who arrived in Japan on December 16.

Japan has also had cases of the UK variant and subsequently banned travel from Britain.

Kenya

Kenya identified two cases of the new coronavirus variant at the end of last month.

It was discovered in two men who later left the country, health officials said.

Norway

The South African variant of the coronavirus was first detected in Norway on January 4, but there have been no new reports since.

The virus variant from South Africa was detected in one traveler who came to Norway from South Africa.

Sweden

Sweden recorded its first case of the South African variant on January 3.

A day later it recorded four new cases of strains found in UK and South Africa.

Switzerland

The first case of the South African variant was reported in Switzerland on December 30.

Health officials in the country said two cases had been discovered, along with five cases of the UK variant.

Soon after, officials quarantined two hotels and closed ski schools in St. Moritz.

Australia 

Australia first reported the presence of the new South African coronavirus variant on December 29.

The woman tested positive when in a quarantine hotel and was later taken to hospital.  

Belgium

The first case of the South African variant was detected Belgium in the West-Flanders region.

According to local reports, the patient died from Covid.

Belgium declared its first major outbreak of the South African variant a week later after 15 people tested positive in Ostend. 

China 

The South African variant was first reported in China on January 6 from a throat swab on a patient in Guangdong Provice.

China has also reported a case of the UK variant.  

Cuba

The Caribbean Island is one of the latest places to identify the South African variant.

The variant case was reported on January 27.

Germany

Germany recorded its first case of the coronavirus variant on January 12, in a member of a family that returned from a lengthy stay in the country in December.

It has since has since discovered its own mutated form of the virus and has threatened to close its border with Austria due to its outbreak.

Spain

Spain detected its first strain of the South African variant on January 28.

A second case was discovered n the northeastern region of Catalonia last week.

Finland

Finland confirmed the presence of two new coronavirus variants – one which was first detected in the UK and the other originally found in South Africa – on December 29.

Ghana

The first South African Covid variant was confirmed in Ghana on January 19.

Gambia

There is no reported date when the country first discovered the South African variant, though the World Health Organization say it has been discovered there.

Last month, the country reported it had detected two cases of the UK variant.

Ireland

Ireland first report detection of the South African variant at the start of January.

The cases were in people who had travelled to Ireland from South Africa over the Christmas holidays. 

Health bosses said they were able to contain the spread. 

Israel 

There have been 80 cases of the South African COVID-19 variant discovered in Israel, the Health Ministry last week.

One man is said to have been reinfected with the strain, according to local reports.

South Korea

There is no reported date when the country first discovered the South African variant, though the World Health Organization say it has been discovered there.

The country also reported the presence of the variant first reported in the UK at the end of December.

Lebanon

There is no reported date when the country first discovered the South African variant, though the World Health Organization say it has been discovered there.

The country reported the presence of the UK variant on December 25, on a flight from London.

Luxembourg

Three cases of the South African variant were discovered on January 27.

The discovery was made at a school in Arlon.

Mayotte

The French island in the Indian ocean began a three-week full lockdown on Friday.

It has recorded at least 78 cases of the South African variant.

Netherlands  

The South African variant was discovered for the first time on January 8.

It was found in one person in the Mid and West Brabant region.

New Zealand 

New Zealand first discovered a South African variant when one case emerged on the island.

The patient, a woman, 56, was thought to have contracted illness from a fellow traveller while quarantining at an Auckland hotel. 

Vietnam

The country recorded its first case of the South African variant this month.

It was discovered in Hanoi in a South African woman who had travelled to the country in December.

United States 

The South Africa variant was discovered in the United States for the first time at the end of last month.

South Carolina officials say two such cases were diagnosed in the state. Both had a history of recent travel, according to reports.

 

 

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