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ANYONE flying into the UK will have to quarantine for two weeks: Returning Britons and foreigners will have to self isolate in ‘phase two’ of Coronavirus plan

  • Airport bosses have complained over failure to limit arrivals and check flyers
  • Officials were told to look at ways to enforce compliance, including large fines or even criminal prosecution, under powers introduced by the Coronavirus Act 
  • The new measures would be backed by a global communications campaign to warn travellers what to expect if they come to the UK

By Glen Owen and Michael Powell for The Mail on Sunday, Published: 22:10 BST, 25 April 2020 | Updated: 05:24 BST, 26 April 2020

Everyone entering the UK will be forced to quarantine for a fortnight under plans being drawn up by the Government. The move follows growing pressure for tighter border controls during the coronavirus crisis and would include UK citizens returning from abroad. 

Airport bosses have complained that the failure to limit arrivals and check passengers has made a mockery of the lockdown. 

The Mail on Sunday understands that the plan – similar to one operated by Singapore – was agreed during a meeting of Ministers and officials on Wednesday. 

Officials were told to look at ways to enforce compliance, including large fines or even criminal prosecution, under powers introduced by the Coronavirus Act. 

It was agreed the authorities could visit registered addresses of arrivals to ensure they were not breaking their quarantine.

The emergency legislation gives immigration officials the power to remove a potentially infectious person to a suitable place for screening and assessment, and for public health officers to enforce restrictions on movement. 

The new measures would be backed by a global communications campaign to warn travellers what to expect if they come to the UK. 

A Government source said: ‘A stringent, Singapore-style approach at our ports will help the UK manage the risk from travellers entering the country and reduce the possibility of a second peak. 

‘We are looking at deploying these measures at the right time, in line with the scientific advice and when community transmission has been significantly reduced.’

A 14-day quarantine of arrivals has already been implemented in dozens of countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and Greece. Japan and Hong Kong introduced Covid-19 tests for all arrivals in mid-January – with those testing positive immediately taken to hospital, and those who test negative placed in isolation. 

More than 130 countries have introduced some form of travel restriction, quarantine and bans on travel from high-risk areas. 

At least 90 per cent of the world’s population lives in countries with restrictions on non-citizens and non-residents arriving from abroad, with Britain criticised for allowing anyone to arrive free of checks.

More than 15,000 people arrive in the UK each day, with hundreds of thousands of UK nationals being repatriated since the outbreak began, including 200,000 from Spain, one of the worst-hit countries. 

Since January, officials in China and other countries in the Far East and Middle East have been using infra-red cameras to screen travellers with high temperatures. Those who appear red on the screen are singled out for a consultation by health professionals and in some cases tested for the disease. 

However, the World Health Organisation says entry screening is ‘not effective’ because it can take two weeks for a virus carrier to display symptoms. 

Only a few cases have been detected at airports in China, Thailand and Malaysia. Lorry drivers bringing in vital supplies to the UK could be exempt from the clampdown. 

Ministers have ordered production of up to 50 million new immunity tests as part of what experts hope will be a ‘game-changing’ development in the battle against Covid-19.

A breakthrough by a team of top British scientists means that, by June, people could be able to reliably test whether they have developed immunity to the virus – and then be allowed to return to work and socialise as normal.

The dramatic news comes as Boris Johnson prepares to go back to work in Downing Street tomorrow, having told aides that he is ‘raring to go’ in the fight against the virus which nearly killed him.

The pandemic reached another grim milestone yesterday as the UK death toll passed 20,000 – up by 813 in 24 hours. 

Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, last month said keeping deaths below 20,000 would be a ‘good outcome’.

The new immunity tests, expected to cost £10, have been devised by scientists at Oxford, working for the Government-backed Rapid Testing Consortium.

Users of the test provide a pinprick of blood for analysis. Then, like a pregnancy test, if two lines appear after a 20-minute wait, people know that they have the antibodies. One line means they are either vulnerable to coronavirus infection or the test has failed.

Under plans being drawn up, the user would take a picture of the positive result and send it to a central unit which would enter their details into a database.

The consortium believes it could produce up to 1 million of the ‘lateral flow’ tests a week by the summer, adding up to 50 million by next year.

Last night, Health Minister Lord Bethell said: ‘This is a great story of how our manufacturers are stepping up to the challenge of Covid, and I am hopeful that their product will make an impact in our battle against this terrible disease.’

There is, however, likely to be scepticism about the plan due to Ministers’ struggle to reach the current target of 100,000 tests a day for those feared to be carrying the virus. 

On Friday, a Government website ran out of home virus tests for key workers in just 15 minutes.

The Government plan also defies World Health Organisation advice that countries should not issue so-called ‘immunity passports’ to ease lockdowns because there was no evidence that people who developed antibodies after recovering from the virus were protected against a second infection.

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