• Thursday, Apr 15, 2021
  • Last Update : 07:45 pm

UK tightens virus controls as New Zealand hunts source of outbreak

  • Published at 08:41 pm February 15th, 2021
A passenger arrives at Birmingham Airport
A passenger arrives at Birmingham Airport, as Britain introduces hotel quarantine program on February 15, 2021 Reuters

The new policy requires all UK citizens and permanent residents entering England from 33 countries

Britain on Monday began mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals from high-risk countries as New Zealand identified its first cases of the UK strain from the outbreak that forced its largest city into lockdown.

Peru's foreign minister meanwhile became the latest senior figure to resign in a growing scandal over top officials jumping the queue for vaccinations.

And Zimbabwe got its first batch of China's Sinopharm vaccine, the first country in southern Africa to receive it.

British officials introduced mandatory hotel quarantine rules for arrivals from dozens of countries deemed "high risk" for coronavirus variants, in a bid to stop new strains spreading.

All UK citizens and permanent residents entering England from 33 countries on a wider travel ban list must self-isolate at their own expense in approved hotels for 10 days and take several Covid-19 tests.

Arriving travellers caught lying about being in one of those countries 10 days before their journey could receive up to 10 years in prison -- a penalty already criticized as excessive.

"It can't be easy for them to be in a bedroom for 10 days," Charlie Islam-Harry, manager of the St Giles Heathrow hotel, told AFP. Her staff will carry out regular welfare checks on guests during their enforced stays, she promised.

More than 109 million cases

Covid-19 has killed at least 2,412,834 and infected 109,451,539 worldwide since emerging in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally on Tuesday at 8pm,local time, based on official sources.

The United States is the worst-affected country with 497,174 deaths followed by Brazil with 239,294, Mexico with 174,207, India with 155,764 and Britain with 117,166.

Vietnam troubling cluster

Two million people have been ordered to stay at home for 15 days starting on Tuesday, state media reports, as the nation struggles to extinguish a troubling new outbreak in Hai Duong province.

Germany-France border checks?

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert says Germany will not rule out expanding new travel controls to its French border amid a surge in virus mutations in the Moselle region, after Paris urges against border closures.

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