HOME quarantine for travellers doesn’t work while long pandemic has not featured in government decisions around how to tackle the pandemic in the UK, experts have said.
Speaking at a Royal Society of Medicine webinar, Chair of Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), Prof Graham Medley suggested limiting travel from India to UK earlier than April 23 would likely have delayed but not prevented Delta variant becoming established.
He spoke like an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, Prof Neil Ferguson, who said the lessons were clear.
“I think the lessons are that if you take the policy of Australia and New Zealand [which have very tight border controls], then it can be effective, but anything much less than that is at best slowing things down. One of the things this last experience with Delta in the UK has highlighted is that home quarantine for travellers just doesn’t work.
I mean, everybody coming in from India in April of this year was meant to quarantine at home [for 10 days], but it has still established itself. I think we need to think carefully about the extent to which travel restrictions are really intended to be effective, in which case they have to be quite stringent. Or we adopt a different strategy,” he said.
However, speaking to the Commons Science and Technology Committee, Chief Medical Adviser for NHS Test and Trace, and Deputy Director of Public Health England’s National Infection Service, Dr. Susan Hopkins said the reduction was only small, not least because certain treatments such as Remdesivir required a hospital stay of a number of days.
“We are seeing a younger population coming into hospital and we are seeing the median length of stay is slightly less, not significantly less, but more time is required for us to give fuller figures on that,” she said.
It will be recalled that cases of Delta variant are rising rapidly in UK, with 11,007 new infections reported yesterday – the highest figure since 19 February.
The variant now accounts for more than 90 per cent of new COVID-19 cases while early data has suggested it is somewhat more resistant to jabs than Alpha variant, particularly after one dose, and might be linked to a greater risk of being admitted to hospital .