Covid warning: Expanding ‘green list’ could see UK testing ‘overwhelmed’ – expert

EU countries 'should be on UK green list' says O'Leary

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Under the Government’s ‘traffic light’ system, British travellers returning from ‘green list’ countries are not required to self-isolate but must take one post-arrival coronavirus test. While only 12 countries are on the UK’s ‘safe’ list, an expert has warned expanding it could overwhelm the Covid testing system.

Rory Boland, travel editor of Which?, has warned people returning from ‘green list’ countries are already having their Covid test results delayed.

Telling Sky News “too many people are not getting their test back on time”, the expert urged the Government to avoid expanding the number of ‘safe’ destinations.

He said: “Providers to us were saying that it’s simply not set up to deal with the numbers of people who need to use it.

“So if we see the Canary Islands, Spain, Greece – some big destinations that hundreds of thousands of people want to go to – turn up on the green list, it’s hard to see how that system is going to cope.

“It is at risk of being overwhelmed.”

Later today, the Government is expected to carry out a review of the ‘traffic light’ system.

According to The Independent, any changes to quarantine requirements for travellers or changes to a country’s status for travel will take effect on Monday.

Should any changes be made, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will confirm the update at a 5pm press conference.

The Joint Biosecurity centre decides whether a country can be added to the ‘green list’ based on factors including:

  • Variants in the country – including how widespread and transmissible they are, and any evidence they evade a vaccine.
  • Testing and weekly case rates per 100,000 people, and the % of tests that come back positive.
  • If the country is safe, but has strong travel links with other countries that have a big risk from variants.
  • How good that country is at genomic sequencing – in other words, spotting new variants.
  • How good the overall data in the country is – in other words, if low case rates can be trusted.

Boris Johnson refused to confirm whether any changes would be made to the ‘traffic light’ system when asked yesterday.

Hinting at an expansion of the more restrictive ‘amber’ and ‘red lists’, he said: “I want you to know we will have no hesitation in moving countries from the green list to the amber list to the red list, if we have to do so.”

The Prime Minister added the Government is “going to try to allow people to travel”, but must exercise caution “to put countries on the red list, on the amber list, when that is necessary”.

He also said Brits looking to travel abroad will have to “wait and see what the Joint Biosecurity Centre say” in their review.

Travel industry leaders have urged Mr Johnson to consider allowing countries like the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, Malta, Morocco, Finland, Jamaica, Barbados, and Grenada to be added to the ‘green list’.

Savvas Perdios, Cyprus’ deputy tourism minister, told the Telegraph the country “absolutely deserved” be put on the UK ‘green list’

Antonio Mayor, president of the Benidorm, Costa Blanca and Valencia Hotel Association, also told The Sun: “The impression I was left with was that there was a good chance the Balearic Islands could be included on the next green list but not necessarily the Canary Islands because it’s not doing the same amount of genome sequencing to identify the different strains of Covid.”



Another 4,330 cases and 12 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test were recorded yesterday.

In total, the UK has now seen 4,494,699 cases and 127,794 deaths.

Yesterday also saw another 108,507 first doses and 338,565 second doses of coronavirus vaccine administered.

In total now, the UK has seen 39,585,665 first doses and 26,073,284 second doses of vaccine administered, equalling 75.2 percent and 49.5 percent respectively.

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