‘We can’t be deaf, blind to rising Covid cases abroad’

Britain: A man wearing a face mask cycles past the Francis Crick Institute Vaccination Centre in London, Britain, March 18, 2021. (Xinhua/Han Yan/IANS)

The UK’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace warned that “we can’t be deaf and blind” to surging coronavirus cases abroad which could threaten the country’s vaccination campaign, calling on Britons to be cautions about their foreign travel plans.

“We can’t be deaf and blind to what’s going on outside the UK,” Xinhua news agency quoted Wallace as saying on Sky News on Sunday.

“We can’t put at risk the gains of our vaccination campaign”.

Wallace said the country has to be cautious about foreign travel plans amid concerns over imports of new virus variants.

“If we were to be reckless in any way, and import new variants, what would people say about that?” he queried.

“We’ve got good direction of travel, we’re getting there, and I think we need to make sure we preserve that at all costs,” the Defence Secretary added.

According to the UK government’s “roadmap” exiting the lockdown, the earliest date people in England could go for a foreign holiday is May 17.

Currently for the Britons, foreign holidays are not allowed and returning travellers have to quarantine.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has also expressed concerns about the rising infection rates in other parts of Europe as many countries are strengthening restrictions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to be updated on April 12 about the possibilities for resuming foreign travel, according to Sky News.

It seems likely that summer holidays overseas this year will be cancelled.

Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group, which feeds into the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), told the BBC on Saturday that “international travel this summer is, for the average holidaymaker, sadly I think, extremely unlikely”.

“We are running a real risk if we do start to have lots of people going overseas in July, for instance, and August, because of the potential for bringing more of these new variants back into the country.”

More than 26.8 million people in the country have been given the first jab of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the latest official figures.

More than half of Britain’s adult population have now received the first dose, a milestone hailed by Johnson as a “fantastic achievement”.

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