The UK’s half-baked Covid travel quarantine scheme will not work | Gabriel Scally
With visitors from only 22 countries having to isolate in hotels, the measures won’t do enough to drive down Covid cases
A fundamental step in handling an outbreak of an infectious disease is to locate where it originated and prevent any more cases of the disease coming into your community or country. If you can cut off the source, you can devote your resources and efforts to suppressing its spread, and coping with the health and social problems it has created. The approach of imposing isolation on arrivals, known as quarantine, is centuries old. At a time when an understanding of the nature of infectious diseases was virtually nonexistent, it was one of the few control methods that worked. In times of plague and pestilence, cities and states often applied it with enormous rigour.
Almost a year after the World Health Organization declared that Covid-19 was a “public health emergency of international concern”, the UK government is imposing a regulated quarantine regime on some international arrivals. This extraordinary delay illustrates perfectly how far the country has distanced itself from its previous position as one of the leading exponents of public health in the world. It also demonstrates a pattern in the government’s handling of much of the pandemic response – taking action far too late and, even then, doing it halfheartedly.