Khan tells government to “get a grip” on international travel to stop Covid spread

Elliot Chappell

Sadiq Khan has told the government to “get a grip” on international travel with greater testing and quarantining procedures for new arrivals to control the spread of coronavirus amid rapidly rising cases.

In an interview this afternoon, the Labour mayor of London outlined his frustration at the “ease” with which people can come to the UK and compared it to the experience travellers have had in other countries during the pandemic.

Khan told viewers: “Other countries that have been affected have not allowed people to come in unless they properly quarantine for a period of time and there is proper testing.

“If you compare and contrast what happens at our airports in relation to the airports in, for example, Seoul, there is a big difference.”

Travellers to the UK, coming from a country not in a travel corridor, must self-isolate where they are staying for ten days unless they take a test. If tested, they can reduce the amount of time spent in isolation to eight days.

In comparison, travellers entering South Korea must submit a negative test confirmation issued within 72 hours of departure and must take another Covid test within three days of arrival in the country.

The mayor explained that powers relating to quarantine rules lie with the government, rather than with the mayor’s office, and that his calls for greater checks for new arrivals at airports had so far “fallen on deaf ears”.

Khan added: “I’m really frustrated, as the mayor of a city with a number of airports serving us – Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, City, plus the Eurostar – at the ease with which people can come in to our city, potentially with new strains of the virus.

“That’s what we’ve been calling on the government to make sure they stop the virus coming in through other means, and that’s why it is really important for them also to get a grip with international travel in relation to this virus…

“I’m asking for much more strict controls in relation to those arriving in our country, including not least far more testing at the point of arrival and proper quarantining before they leave the airport firstly for the testing and before they can leave their homes.”

Covid cases have been rising in all parts of England, along with the number of people being admitted to hospitals with the novel coronavirus. London has the highest rate of new Covid-19 cases in the country.

Of the 25 local authorities with the highest rates in England, 11 are in London. In the seven days to December 30th, the rate in the capital stood at 934.3 cases per 100,000 people – up from 844.3 the previous week and 531.5 two weeks ago.

During the first wave of the coronavirus crisis in spring last year, patient numbers peaked at 5,201 on April 9th. 6,358 people were in hospitals in London being treated for Covid as of 8am on January 3rd.

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