TRAVELLING to Manchester is more dangerous than flying to Portugal or Spain, a Covid expert has claimed.
Brits on holiday in Portugal have been plunged into chaos and face having to fork out thousands of pounds for Covid tests as the country moves to the UK’s ‘amber list’ next week.
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But Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said there’s more risk travelling from London to Manchester than going on holiday to Portugal.
He said: “We seem to be slightly more obsessed with these variants than any other country and I think this is probably because we’re leading the world in our genetics in terms of us understanding what these variants are doing. But it’s also creating this slight element of panic and fear, because of these potentials of these variants to do something.
“But I think if we look at the hard data there’s really been hardly any increase in admissions and death rates are really low because this is getting to be a milder disease. We’ve got to get on with this.
“We’re not going to get to Covid zero so we need to learn to live with this virus, this milder form, even though it is more transmissible.”
According to the latest government figures, Covid cases are surging in Greater Manchester.
Bolton alone has 355.1 cases per 100,000 people.
And Prof Spector added that he’s struggling to understand the thinking behind removing Portugal from the green list for international travel.
“If you travel from London to Manchester at the moment, it’s a much greater risk than going to Portugal, Spain, Italy, France. Are we protecting the Portuguese from problems? Is it that way around?” he said.
“Because otherwise I don’t really get it. We can’t stop variants coming into this country unless we completely lock down the country.
“So I think we just ought to start settling down and dealing with our own outbreaks and not try to have this haphazard travel policy which is causing a lot of fear and confusion.”
The government has sent thousands of people’s travel plans up in smoke by advising Brits not to go to the popular destination – and making returning passengers self-isolate from 4am on Tuesday.
THOUSANDS HEADING HOME
More than 112,000 Brits are currently in Portugal and travellers returning from there will be required to take a pre-departure PCR Covid test and provide a negative result.
They will then have to pay for a further two tests on days two and eight of their 10-day quarantine.
Brits can opt for private Covid test providers, which can cost between £120 and £300 per person – or slightly cheaper options are available from Boots and Superdrug.
It means a family four could be spending anywhere between £240 and £1,200 to fly home – plus parents potentially taking 10 days off work.
Tui, the UK’s largest tour operator, said it has 9,500 customers in Portugal but that was already due to have fallen to 2,000 by Tuesday because of the end of half-term for schoolchildren.
A Portuguese epidemiologist claimed the decision to move Portugal to the amber tier was “an overreaction”.
Professor Henrique Barros, president of Portugal’s National Health Council, said the country’s overall coronavirus situation is “relatively stable”.
Boris Johnson will examine the Covid stats this week to decide over lifting restrictions on June 21, Matt Hancock has revealed.
The Health Secretary said it was “too early” to determine whether the Government would lift all coronavirus restrictions later this month.
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He also confirmed that Brits in their 20s will get their Covid jabs this week.
Mr Hancock warned that the Indian Covid strain is 40 per cent more transmissible than other variants.
Meanwhile, ‘Freedom Day’ on June 21 could be delayed to July 5 in an effort to make sure all those aged over 50 receive a second vaccine.