No quarantine for passengers from China, as testing brought in to track Covid spread
From January 5, travellers from China into England will be required to show a negative Covid-19 test before departing, with the Government due to set out further details, as well as rules for Hong Kong soon.
Mark Harper said the Government had created a “sensible, balanced proposition” to deal with the potential spread of Covid from China.
The Transport Secretary told LBC: “This is about a country, China, which isn’t sharing the health data with the global health system that we expect everybody to do.
“That is why we have put this temporary precautionary measure in place as China opens up its borders.”
He said that pre-departure tests for those who fly from China, as well as testing a sample of passengers when they arrive in the UK, will mean the Government can “track the virus that is coming from China.”
Asked if people who arrive in the UK from China who test positive for Covid would be required to quarantine, Mark Harper told LBC: “No, because what we are doing is we are collecting that information for surveillance purposes.
“But, look, one in 45 people in the United Kingdom have got Covid at the moment,” he said.
“The policy for arrivals from China is primarily about collecting information that the Chinese government are not sharing with the international community.”
The Transport Secretary has recommended people get vaccinated to stem the impact of Covid-19, and also said wearing a mask is “sensible” if they need to go out while ill.
Asked if he would wear a mask if he was ill with coronavirus, Mark Harper told LBC: “First of all you should stay at home if you think you have got Covid or you have got flu – actually the most sensible thing to do is to not go out and spread it.
“If you do go out, clearly wearing a mask is very sensible if you are ill.”
Downing Street rejected any suggestion that the new rules for Chinese travellers could signal a wider change for visitors travelling to the UK from countries with high rates of Covid-19.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “A part of the reason for this was because of a lack of comprehensive health information being shared.”
“We’re working with the Chinese government to encourage them – we’re not alone in this – to get more information from them.”
He said that the Government was in discussions with Chinese officials regarding the new policy, but that he was not yet aware of any “significant improvement” in Chinese information-sharing at this point.
No 10 has stressed that it is “not compulsory” to wear a mask while ill following Mr Harper’s comments that it was “sensible” to do so if travelling.
Professor Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), issued advice on Monday saying adults should “wear a face covering” if they have to leave the house while feeling unwell.
Downing Street said the advice from health officials was “longstanding” but stressed it was “not mandatory”.
The UKHSA handed out the advice this week in a bid to counter high levels of flu, Covid-19 and invasive Strep A disease (iGas).