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Quarantine fiasco allowed 10,000 infected arrivals into the UK
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Quarantine fiasco allowed 10,000 infected arrivals into the UK
Failure to introduce quarantine at the start of the coronavirus outbreak led to 10,000 infected people entering the UK, accelerating the spread of disease, an investigation by MPs has found. The all-party home affairs committee said the Government's "inexplicable" decision to lift restrictions on about one million people who arrived in the UK between March 13 and lockdown on March 23 contributed to the pace and scale of the Covid-19 outbreak. They said this "highly unusual approach" to the pandemic contrasted with other countries - from Singapore and New Zealand to Spain - that were introducing more comprehensive measures, including quarantine and self-isolation for international arrivals. Experts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told the MPs that they calculated up to 10,000 infected people, largely from Spain, France and Italy - including families returning from half-term breaks - imported Covid-19 into the UK. This was confirmed by Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, who pointed to evidence that hundreds of different strains of Covid-19 were brought into the UK after the Government abandoned special measures for international arrivals on March 13. "The UK's experience of Covid-19 has been far worse as a result of the Government's decision not to require quarantine during March, which would have reduced the number of imported infections," said the MPs. "Evidence shows it is highly likely that uncontrolled importations of the virus from European countries contributed to the rapid increase in the spread of the virus in mid-March, and the overall scale of the outbreak in the UK. The failure to have any special border measures during this period was a serious mistake." From mid February until March 13, the Government told arrivals from countries including China, Iran and South Korea to self-isolate even if asymptomatic. For a second category of countries such as Japan and northern Italy, it recommended self-isolation if people developed symptoms. These were abandoned in favour of voluntary "stay at home" guidance until full, legally enforced lockdown was introduced on March 23. But the committee said it did not accept the argument that the introduction of voluntary stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection on March 13 was enough reason to withdraw all guidance for returning travellers or visitors. A study on Tuesday claimed the price the Government was prepared to pay to save lives was lower than in many other developed nations. Researchers said 20,000 lives in the UK would have been saved if the Government had imposed lockdown three days earlier. They assessed this alongside the financial cost lockdown had and found the "price of life" in the UK was among the lowest at around $100,000.
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