Health chiefs in England have urged anyone who travels from Wales to self-isolate over Christmas, turn away Christmas Day visitors and “assume” they have the new Covid-19 variant.
Public health directors in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester asked people to self-isolate for 10 days if they had travelled from Wales.
They have also made the same request of London and parts of the south east of England which entered Tier 4 over the weekend.
Director of public health for Tameside, Greater Manchester, Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy said: “The new strain of Covid, which is increasing rapidly in Tier 4 areas, is extremely worrying.
“It is incredibly infectious and if you come in to contact with someone with this strain you are far more likely to catch it than the original strain.
“We are so concerned about the potential grave impact of this that we have taken the difficult decision to ask anyone who has travelled here for Christmas from any Tier 4 area or Wales to act as if they have this new variant, even if they have no symptoms, and self-isolate for at least 10 days.
“Other people in the house do not need to self isolate but no visitors should be allowed in that house at all, even on Christmas Day.”
Director of public health for the Lancashire authority of Blackburn with Darwen Dominic Harrison also said that anyone who had travelled from a top tier area since Wednesday December 16 should self-isolate for at least five days.
A statement issued on behalf of all the West Midlands health chiefs also urged people to “self-isolate for at least 10 days”.
“This means remaining inside the house where they’re staying for the whole 10 days,” they said.
“Other people who live in the house do not need to self-isolate unless they get symptoms, but no visitors should be allowed in that house at all, even on Christmas Day.
“Even if you have a negative test, you should continue to self-isolate.”
The statement sent by the West Midlands Local Resilience Forum on behalf of the Strategic Co-ordinating Group, added that, although the West Midlands is not in Tier 4, “it is highly likely that the new variant is circulating” in the region.
First Minister Mark Drakeford yesterday confirmed that over 600 people in Wales have tested positive for the new aggressive variant of COVID-19 but warned the true number of infections is likely to be much higher.
On Saturday new restrictions were announced in Wales and across the rest of the UK due to the rapid spread of the new strain, which was first detected in the southeast of England in September.
The variant is believed to be to 70% more transmissible than the original virus and scientists have predicted it could increase the R number, which indicates if an epidemic is growing or shrinking – by up to 0.4.