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EU requires finish to UK journey ban regardless of Covid variant fears

The European Fee issued a press release on Tuesday saying that whereas journey to and from the EU ought to be “discouraged” bans on motion ought to be lifted.

It acknowledged that “precautions are wanted” to comprise the unfold of the variant, however stated “blanket journey bans shouldn’t stop 1000’s of EU and UK residents from returning to their houses”.

Probably the most dramatic motion has come from France, which closed its border to lorries crossing the Channel, resulting in greater than 1,500 HGVs being trapped in Kent.

Truck driver criticises authorities over dealing with of border closure

The EU-wide strategy beneficial by the fee would enable important journey, and transit of passengers ought to be facilitated.

Flight and practice bans “ought to be discontinued given the necessity to guarantee important journey and keep away from provide chain disruptions”, the fee stated.

EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders stated “member states ought to take co-ordinated motion to discourage non-essential journey between the UK and the EU”.

However “on the similar time, blanket journey bans shouldn’t stop 1000’s of EU and UK residents from returning to their houses”.

Transport commissioner Adina Valean stated: “Inside the EU, it’s essential that transport employees are exempted from any restrictive measures.”

Talks between the UK and France to resolve the disaster on the Channel have included discussions on testing HGV drivers.

The EU’s suggestion steered fast checks ought to be used to keep away from disruption.

Dwelling Secretary Priti Patel stated the Authorities is “talking consistently” with France to realize a decision “in each our pursuits” to get freight transferring once more.

However she defended the Authorities’s dealing with of the pandemic, insisting ministers had been “forward of the curve” in tackling coronavirus.

Andrew Opie, director of meals and sustainability on the British Retail Consortium, stated the “borders actually must be operating just about freely from tomorrow to guarantee us that there received’t be any disruption”.

He informed BBC Radio 4’s Immediately programme: “There’s a downside probably immediately after Christmas and that’s actually in recent produce, so we’re speaking right here about issues like salad, greens, recent fruit, of which the overwhelming majority come from Europe at the moment.”

The primary downside was empty lorries caught in Kent unable to go over to the continent to reload with recent provides, he stated.

Ms Patel informed Sky Information that talks would proceed with France as a result of “it’s in each our pursuits to hold on these discussions and negotiations and we are going to see what materialises at present”.

The Dwelling Secretary defended the response of ministers, telling BBC Radio 4’s Immediately: “The Authorities has constantly all through this yr been forward of the curve by way of proactive measures close to coronavirus.”

She stated that though 20 per cent of products come via the brief straits, “there’s loads of meals within the supermarkets”.

She added: “We have now recent produce are available via different routes as nicely, via air freight and never simply via the brief straits, so I feel we have now to only take a balanced strategy to this.”

Rod McKenzie, managing director of the Highway Haulage Affiliation, informed BBC Breakfast that stranded drivers had been provided “one cereal bar” by Kent County Council on Monday “which is a fairly poor effort, I feel by way of sustaining their morale, and their spirits”.

Mr McKenzie stated rest room amenities have been additionally a “massive concern” with issues over well being and cleanliness.

The World Well being Organisation’s European chief Hans Kluge stated limiting journey to comprise the unfold of the brand new variant was “prudent” till there was extra info.

All it’s essential know from the Authorities’s coronavirus briefing

Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday and careworn that the dangers of transmission posed by a “solitary driver sitting alone within the cab are actually very low”.

However he stated the availability chains for “important items” and important journey “ought to stay potential”.

The M20 in Kent was closed on Monday night time to permit for the implementation of Operation Brock – contingency measures which contain utilizing a moveable barrier to maintain visitors transferring on the motorway every time there’s disruption on the Channel.

In the meantime, scientific advisers continued to press the case for more durable restrictions in response to the VUI 202012/1 variant, which is 70 per cent extra infectious than earlier strains.

The Authorities’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, stated more durable restrictions could also be wanted throughout the UK as a result of instances of the mutant pressure of Covid-19 at the moment are showing “in every single place”.

What’s the new Covid variant?

Genomic researchers have since confirmed that instances of the mutation have been recognized in Scotland and Wales.

The Covid-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium sampled instances across the UK and located the variant can also be within the South West, Midlands and North of England, areas which can be below Tier 2 and three restrictions.

Jeffrey Barrett, lead Covid-19 statistical geneticist at COG-UK, warned there was a lag within the sequence information being sampled, so the newest information was from the primary week of December when England got here out of the second nationwide lockdown.

At a Science Media Centre briefing on Tuesday, he stated: “They’re comparatively small numbers however I feel it is very important bear in mind that it’s definitely not the case that that is simply fully geographically constrained to what’s the present Tier 4 space.”

Dr Barrett stated extra up-to-date information from group testing additionally discovered one of many mutations of this variant.

He stated: “It reveals basically the identical image, that the variant is current in very many various locations in England.

“It’s definitely not remoted in a single place, it has begun to unfold to many locations in England.”

Professor Tom Connor, a genomics skilled from Cardiff College, informed the briefing that sequencing information reveals instances across the UK, together with Wales and Scotland.

He stated it was no shock {that a} new variant hd been present in international locations – together with the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands – which have mature sequencing methods arrange, and he believed related variants will pop up around the globe.

Prof Connor stated Wales had sequenced extra viruses prior to now week than the entire of France throughout the whole pandemic.

Nonetheless, Prof Connor warned not sufficient time has handed to know whether or not the variant results in a worse consequence for contaminated individuals.

He stated: “While you’re speaking about consequence you’re usually 28 days after the individual has been identified – with a whole lot of these instances popping up in late December we’re not at that time the place you’ll have that consequence info to do this evaluation but.”

Prof Gupta stated the bulk of people that contract Covid-19 get well, including: “There isn’t actually, in my thoughts, an enormous rationale for considering there’s going to be a worse consequence (with the brand new variant).”

Dr Barrett stated 23 mutations of the virus have been detected “unexpectedly”, which is uncommon, suggesting it didn’t occur by coincidence.

He stated: “It means that one thing occurred – we don’t know what that one thing is, that produced this variant, and it doesn’t occur that usually as a result of we haven’t seen it earlier than.

“I feel the conjunction of very fast unfold and a whole lot of mutations makes this much less and fewer more likely to be only a coincidence.”

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