Quarantine checks are being carried out on 'just 3% of arrivals' in UK

Quarantine checks are being carried out on ‘just 3% of arrivals’ in UK amid questions over delay in demanding negative tests before travelling

  • Labour analysis shows quarantine checks reaching just three per cent of arrivals
  • The shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has written to Priti Patel 
  • Mr Thomas-Symonds said quarantine system leaves UK ‘defenceless’ to variants
  • Comes as ministers consider roll out of negative test requirement for travellers 

Just three in every 100 people arriving in the UK are being checked to see if they are complying with quarantine, according to Labour analysis, as ministers prepare to require negatives tests before travelling. 

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has written to Priti Patel to demand ‘an urgent review and improvement plan of quarantine arrangements’. 

He claimed the current system of checking up on only a fraction of people is leaving the UK ‘defenceless and completely exposed’ to importing coronavirus variants.

It came after Boris Johnson said last night that the Government will be bringing in measures to ensure people arriving in the UK have been tested. 

But the imposition of a third national lockdown has prompted growing calls for immediate action and questions over why a requirement for a negative test before arrival in the UK has not already been introduced. 

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has written to Priti Patel to demand urgent improvement to the travel quarantine programme

Labour analysis suggested three in every 100 UK arrivals are checked to ensure they are complying with quarantine measures  

Mr Thomas-Symonds said Labour analysis of Government data suggested just three per cent of arrivals expected to quarantine in England and Northern Ireland were successfully contacted by compliance checkers in the summer.

He said the Government’s Isolation Assurance Service, tasked with ensuring quarantine compliance, did not contact more than 1.9 million of the two million passengers spot checked by Border Force between June and September. 

In a letter to the Home Secretary, Mr Thomas-Symonds said the numbers were ‘deeply concerning’ and demonstrate that ‘efforts to track, trace and isolate cases coming into the UK have been completely undermined’. 

He said: ‘The lack of a robust quarantine system as a result of shortcomings from the Government mean that it is virtually impossible to keep a grip on this spread or other variants that may come from overseas, leaving the UK defenceless, and completely exposed, with the nation’s doors unlocked to further COVID mutations. 

The Labour frontbencher said there must be ‘an urgent review and improvement plan of quarantine arrangements’ rolled out as soon as possible.

The calls for action come amid growing concerns over a variant of the disease discovered in South Africa.

The Home Office defended its ‘stringent measures’, and pointed to its move to stop direct flights from South Africa to the UK. 

A Government spokesman said: ‘The figures in this letter are inaccurate. Border Force have conducted more than three million spot checks and PHE (Public Health England) have been contacting a further 1,500 people each day.

‘We are determined to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Our stringent measures, such as compulsory Passenger Locator Forms and spot checks both at the border and during quarantine periods, have seen a high level of compliance.’ 

Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference last night that the Government will be ‘bringing in measures to ensure that we test people coming into this country and prevent the virus from being readmitted’. 

Ministers are understood to be considering introducing a requirement for international arrivals to have a negative coronavirus test before travelling to Britain in order to tackle surging cases. Hauliers would be exempt.

Currently arrivals into England from nations that are not exempted under the travel corridor programme must isolate for 10 days.

But under the test and release scheme introduced in December, this can be shortened if they have a private test five days after their departure and it comes back negative.

During the first lockdown, the Government argued against introducing border restrictions while the prevalence was so high in the UK, with experts arguing it would do little to bring down infection rates.

However, a quarantine period was introduced in June after the first peak and when cases were more under control.

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