Today, Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Wales FM Mark Drakeford are calling for the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to extend the self-isolation period to 8 days and require an extra PCR test on day 8. In reply, the UK government has said extending the requirements would have a "detrimental effect" on the travel industry, No 10 said. "Introducing further isolation requirements and testing requirements would have a detrimental effect on the travel individually industry and indeed those who are planning to go travelling."
This will give some relief to those travelling in the near future (as long as this remains the case).
The BBC: Do travel bans really work?
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has criticised the imposition of travel bans by countries around the world - including the UK - in response to the new Omicron variant.
“The prohibition of travel is not informed by science, nor will it be effective in preventing the spread of this variant.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) urges a “risk-based” approach to travel bans, taking into account other measures like face masks, social distancing as well as the extent of vaccine programmes.
Its advice has shifted significantly from the early days of the pandemic in 2020 when it questioned the value of travel bans. At that time, the WHO said: “Travel measures that significantly interfere with international traffic may only be justified at the beginning of an outbreak, as they may allow countries to gain time”.
Some scientific studies have suggested that these bans only work right at the start of an outbreak combined with other health measures, and that they could risk inducing a false sense of security in populations.
Dr Deepti Gurdasani, an epidemiologist at London’s Queen Mary University, told the BBC that although travel restrictions might slow down the spread of disease, it was clear that the Omicron variant was already in other parts of the world now.
“Rather than travel bans, you should have proper screening and isolation policies which would slow the spread,” she said.
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