Close borders with Thailand and Vietnam to stop new Covid-19 variant, Labour says

Opposition says Priti Patel is ‘reckless’ keeping countries on amber list

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Friday 04 June 2021 19:47
<p>Labour is urging Priti Patel to act urgently</p>

Labour is urging Priti Patel to act urgently

Labour has called for tougher border controls with Thailand and Vietnam amid growing evidence they are breeding grounds for new more virulent variants of Covid-19.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds wrote to Priti Patel on Friday night urging her to "urgently" move the two countries onto the red list, barring most travel.

The opposition said the government had "recklessly opened the door to new variants" and said ministers' ambiguity over whether holidays are allowed to Amber list countries had contributed to the importation of new variants.

New research released by Public Health England shows that the C.36.3 variant linked to Thailand was designated a Variant Under Investigation on 24 May, with 117 cases identified in in Britain, over 37 per cent of which originate from returning travellers.

Neighbouring Vietnam, previously one of the most successful countries at suppressing the variant, is also experiencing a significant rise in cases which Labour says could be linked to the new variant.

Writing to Ms Patel, the Home Secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour's shadow Home Secretary, said that "the Amber List system does not work in preventing strains from overseas reaching the UK".

"It is beyond reckless that countries with worrying Covid variants and rising case numbers were not added to the Red List on Thursday 3 June, at the very least," he wrote,

In a statement to the media the shadow Home Secretary added: “There is a terrible sense of déjà vu witnessing yet more variants reach the UK outbreaks of the variant first discovered in Thailand is in addition to those of Brazil, South Africa and India.

“It beggars belief that Conservative Ministers opened up an ambiguous ‘Amber List’, causing mass confusion and allowing thousands of people to travel to the UK from countries, including Thailand and Vietnam, with rising Covid numbers. They have recklessly opened the door to new variants and learned nothing from the crisis, putting at risk the 21 June reopening.

“The UK Government must add all countries on the Amber List to the Red List. Failing that, they should at the very least add Thailand and Vietnam to the Red List immediately.”

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