2020欧洲杯网站

At least 20,000 people with coronavirus arrived in UK before lockdown amid lack of restrictions

Arrivals would have infected some 50,000 more people, given WHO assessment of average transmission rate at start of March

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Passengers from the Diamond Princess, many of whom did go through quarantine in the UK

At least 20,000 people infected with coronavirus entered the UK before the lockdown, but fewer than 300 of them were quarantined, official figures reveal.

2020欧洲杯网站These arrivals would have infected some 50,000 more people, given the World Health Organisation's assessment of an average transmission rate at the start of March of between two and 2.5.

Figures provided to the home affairs committee by the Home Office show that, between January 1 and the end of March, 18.1 million people entered the UK without any health checks, including people from coronavirus hotspot countries. Of these, just 273 were quarantined.

2020欧洲杯网站Even by conservative estimates of prevalence, this would have meant 20,000 others being infected.

The arrivals were only asked to self-isolate if they had symptoms, unlike in New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, Australia and Italy, which closed their borders, quarantined or introduced supervised self-isolation.

Ministers have maintained they acted on the scientific advice of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) that tougher restrictions would have a "negligible" impact given the domestic transmission rate then and the dramatically-reduced number of passengers now entering the UK.

However, this appeared at odds on Tuesday with Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, who told MPs the UK got "many, many different imports of the virus from many different places... particularly from European countries with outbreaks".

"And so we see a big influx of cases, probably from Italy and Spain, looking at the genomics of the virus in early March, seeded right the way across the country," he told the health and social care committee.

"Whether that was people returning from half-term, whether it's business travellers or not we don't know, but a lot of the cases in the UK didn't come from China and didn't come from the places you might have expected. They actually came from European imports and the high level of travel into the UK around that time."

2020欧洲杯网站Stephen Doughty, a member of the home affairs committee, said it "beggared belief" that only the 273 Britons extracted from Wuhan or who had been on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan were quarantined when the pandemic was "already raging in a series of locations".

"On what scientific basis were a handful of flights from Wuhan and one from a Tokyo singled out for extreme attention? But not a single flight from Northern Italy, Spain or the US?" he asked.

"The fact that many of these people then likely arrived and travelled onwards across the UK with little or no adherence to social distancing, and with no checks or protections at the border – barely a whiff of hand sanitiser – is deeply disturbing, let alone the arrival of 3,000 fans from Madrid [for a Champions League match at Liverpool] as the pandemic picked up speed.

"Yet arrivals continue to this day with no formal quarantine requirements. It is simply staggering. Who made these decisions? And on what basis?"

The Government has so far refused to publish its modelling or the Sage scientific advice behind the open border approach.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Our approach to tackling coronavirus is, and has always been, driven by the latest scientific and medical advice, and procedures at the border have been strictly following the latest Government guidance throughout. 

2020欧洲杯网站"The scientific advice showed that placing restrictions at the border would not have had a significant impact on the spread of the virus in the UK. Passenger numbers arriving in the UK are currently down by 99 per cent, but we continue to keep this under review."