Welsh Government said they ‘warned’ UK Government not to relax travel rules after new variant found in England
The Welsh Government have said that they “warned” the UK Government about not relaxing travel rules after two cases of the new Omicron variant was found in England.
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today that arrivals in England will have to take a PCR test by the end of day two of their arrival, and travellers must self-isolate until they receive a negative test result.
The Welsh Government said that they would be bringing in the same measures, but said that the previous stricter enforcement should never have been dropped.
“We have repeatedly raised our concerns with the UK Government about its decision to relax international travel rules quickly, precisely because of the risk of introducing new variants into the UK. We also warned against the removal of PCR tests for returning travellers,” they said.
“We will be introducing the same measures on international travel as those announced this afternoon by the UK Government and the other devolved governments.”
On the new Omicron variant, the Welsh Government said that they were keeping an eye on the situation and would announce any changes in due course.
“The emergence of this new variant is a serious development in the ongoing pandemic and reinforces the need for everyone in Wales to get their vaccine or booster when offered, wear face coverings when necessary, and book a test if they develop symptoms,” they said.
“Welsh Ministers will continue to meet this evening and over the weekend to monitor the situation in Wales and decide whether any further immediate action is required to protect public health.”
The First Minister Mark Drakeford also released a statement, saying that they were taking “fast action” in response to the new omicron variant.
“But we have repeatedly raised concerns about relaxing international travel rules too quickly due to the risk of introducing new variants to the UK,” he said.
“Wales is bringing in the same international travel measures as the rest of the UK. The Cabinet will continue to meet this evening and tomorrow to monitor the developing situation and decide if further action is required to protect people’s health.
“This new variant is a serious development in the ongoing pandemic. I urge everyone in Wales to continue to work together to keep each other safe. Please get your vaccine or booster when offered, wear a mask when necessary, and book a test if you have symptoms.”
Boris Johnson had said in today’s press conference that anyone found to have the new variant Omicron will have to self-isolate whether they have had the coronavirus jab or not.
He also said that face coverings will become compulsory on public transport and in shops, not including hospitality.
England’s Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, had said earlier that the UK Health Security Agency had detected two linked cases in Chelmsford and in Nottingham, who are now self-isolating.
Both cases were identified due to overnight sequencing. Targeted testing will now be rolled out in both areas in an attempt to contain the spread.
Sajid Javid said he had been notified on Friday night that the cases had been detected. He added that the booster vaccines were “even more important” as a result of this discovery.
“We don’t know much about this new variant yet, we know it is out there, but what we do know is that the protections we do have – especially the vaccines – are hugely important,” he said.
He had earlier taken to social media to post an alert about the new virus.
“We have been made aware by UKHSA of two UK cases of the Omicron variant,” he said. “The two cases are linked and there is a connection with travel to southern Africa.
“These individuals are self-isolating with their households while further testing and contact tracing is underway.”
The Welsh Government are yet to comment on the new variant, but Vaughan Gething had said in a press conference this week that restrictions like those seen last year might be needed in a “vaccine busting variant” was encountered.
The next three-week review falls on December 10th and will take in the Christmas period and up until New Year’s eve.