United Kingdom

Bahamas, Belgium and Andorra are to be taken off UK's quarantine-exemption list

The Bahamas, Andorra and Belgium will be taken off the UK's quarantine-exemption list, it has been announced. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said people arriving in Britain from the three nations will have to quarantine from 4am on Saturday.

In a tweet he said: 'Data shows we need to remove Andorra, Belgium and The Bahamas from our list of coronavirus Travel Corridors in order to keep infection rates DOWN.

'If you arrive in the UK after 0400 Saturday from these destinations, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days.' 

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has designated all Belgium as a 'code orange' for the new coronavirus, meaning the number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants is 20 or above for two weeks. 

Separately, Malaysia and Brunei have been added to the UK's safe list 

Nurse prepares to take a nasal swab test in the newly opened Coronavirus testing drive-in in Antwerp, Belgium

Pictured: People wearing face masks walk through the shopping district of Brussels earlier this week

The number of new cases in Belgium doubled in a week following earlier success in bringing the virus under control in the country

Speaking about the changes to the quarantine list, Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: 'The governments of all for nations have agreed to these changes based on a shared understanding of the data.

'This is another important step in our efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, and adhering to the quarantine is a vital aspect of this.

'Imposing quarantine requirements on those arriving from another country is not a decision made lightly - but suppressing the virus and protecting public health remains our priority.'

Belgium was expected to be added to the list, following a steady rise in coronavirus infections. 

The decision will cause problems for thousands of people who travel each day on the Eurostar between Brussels and London, as well as those on flights connecting the two countries.

Men walk through the entrance of meat processing plant Westvlees, in Westrozebeke, part of Staden, Belgium, on Wednesday after several employees of the plant were tested positive for coronavirus

How Covid-19 cases have changed in Spain, Belgium, Finland, Greece, France, Ireland, Germany, Italy, the UK, Luxembourg and Europe overall. The biweekly growth rate on any given date measures the percentage change in the number of new confirmed cases over the last 14 days relative to the number in the previous 14 days

It comes after the number of new cases in Belgium doubled in a week following earlier success in bringing the virus under control in the country.

Some 9,852 people have died of the disease, giving Belgium the highest mortality rate, per capita, in the world. 

It has had 85 fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Britain with 68, Spain 61, Peru 61, and Italy 58.

New confirmed infections there rose to an average of 448.1 per day in the last week of July, which was a 104 per cent increase on the previous seven days. 

As many as half of the new cases have been in Antwerp, where a night-time curfew has been imposed and restrictions on where residents can meet have been brought back in.  

It comes after warnings that France could also be added to the list.  

Thousands of holidays could be at risk as France is 'highly likely' to be added to the 14-day quarantine list following a dramatic rise in coronavirus infections, according to travel experts.

Tourists returning to the UK could soon be facing a 14 days in self-isolation amid speculation that France will be added to the Foreign Office's quarantine list. 

Travellers from France could soon face a 14 days of self-isolation on their return to the UK following a dramatic rise in coronavirus cases. Pictured: Tourists wearing face masks in Brittany earlier this week

The number of daily coronavirus cases in the country has soared in recent days, with 1,695 new infections being recorded just yesterday, as it battles a second wave of Covid-19. 

It is thought that if the decision goes ahead holidaymakers may be forced to cancel their trips in order to avoid the two-week quarantine on their return. 

Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: 'Unless France takes further significant steps to reduce its case numbers, then it's highly likely to be added later next week as the increase must be causing worries in Westminster. 

'There are several hundred thousand British tourists in France at the moment so the government must give plenty of warning if it does change its advice later next week.' 

It comes after France's scientific committee stated earlier this week that the situation was 'under control, but precarious. We could at any moment tip into a scenario that is less under control.' 

It added: 'The short term future of the pandemic mainly lies in the hands of the population. It is highly likely that we will experience a second epidemic wave this autumn or winter.' 

The statement said the virus 'has recently been circulating more actively, with an increased loss of distancing and barrier measures' since France emerged from its strict two-month lockdown in May.

'The balance is fragile and we can change course at any time to a less controlled scenario like in Spain for example,' it said.      

Two months of strict lockdown seemed to put the country on track in its fight against the pandemic - but it is now once again recording around 1,219 new cases a day (graphic showing growing number of daily coronavirus cases in France)

The country has already lost a total of more than 30,300 lives to the pandemic (graphic showing growing number of daily coronavirus deaths in France)

It is thought that if the decision is made to add France to the list, thousands of British holidaymakers may cancel their trips in order to avoid the two-week quarantine. Pictured: Beach-goers in Saint Jean de Luz, southwestern France, yesterday

The uptick in infections in France has been bolstered by fresh coronavirus testing troubles as dozens of labs closed to allow staff a summer holiday despite signs that a second wave is building.

Doctors have warned that the vacation crunch is just part of a larger web of failures in France's testing strategy which was described earlier this week by the government's own virus advisory panel as disorganized and 'insufficient'.

'First, there is a lack of workers to do the testing. If we don't ask all the health workers to be available by mobilizing all of them, there are just not enough people,' emergency services doctor Christophe Prudhomme at a hospital in Bobigny, Paris. 

'And then it's a matter of organization,' he said, urging regional health agencies 'to organize testing so that it's not the citizen who has to take his phone and try to call seven or eight labs in order to get an appointment that will take place only next week.'

It is worrying news for the country which saw its hospitals nearly drown with Covid-19 patients in the first wave - in part due to inadequate testing.

The country has already lost more than 30,300 lives to the pandemic and yesterday alone recorded 1,695 new infections.    

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