U.K. Defends Delay to Quarantine Meant to Keep Out Virus Strain

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The U.K. defended the delay in imposing hotel quarantine for travelers arriving from virus hot spots, even as officials battle to contain the spread of a new variant of coronavirus from South Africa.

“The government is working on this initiative and wants to get it right,” Universities Minister Michelle Donelan told the BBC on Tuesday when asked why the policy has not been implemented. “It is a logistical effort.”

Boris Johnson’s government announced the quarantine plan last week, saying that travelers arriving from high-risk regions such as South America and South Africa would have to isolate in government-provided accommodation for 10 days. The plan was designed to prevent the import of new strains of the disease, amid fears a mutation of the coronavirus could undermine a vaccination program ministers regard as the route out of the pandemic.

English authorities are boosting testing in eight areas after cases of the South Africa variant were found with no link to travel, indicating transmission in the community. While there is no evidence the mutation causes more serious illness, studies are ongoing about how vaccine efficacy is affected.

Donelan said the government would give an update on when the policy will actually be enforced later this week or early next.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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