The Scottish and Welsh governments have called for an eight-day quarantine for all arrivals into the UK following the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford have sent a joint letter to prime minister Boris Johnson asking for the reinstatement of the day 8 PCR test for travellers into the UK – which would require all travellers to isolate for that period.
They have also asked for a Cobra committee meeting “as soon as possible” as part of a four nations approach to controlling the spread of the new variant.
The letter reads: “We believe the reinstatement of a requirement for a ‘day 8’ PCR test for travellers arriving into the UK – alongside the ‘day 2’ requirement already announced, and thereby requiring isolation for that whole period – is now necessary. Public health advice is unequivocal that this is the best and safest way to protect against the importation of this variant to the fullest extent possible.
“While our public health systems work hard to minimise the spread of cases already in the UK, it is imperative that we do all we can to avoid under-cutting these efforts by permitting on-going importation.”
The letter also says that the emergence of Omicron poses a potential threat to the UK.
“It is clear that the strain is already here and that it appears highly transmissible. We need to work collectively – and effectively – as four nations to take all reasonable steps to control the ingress of the virus to the country and then to limit its spread.
“We are clear that a four nations approach to issues such as border restrictions is the most effective approach. This requires that a meeting of the Cobra committee be held as soon as possible.
“We would wish to use that opportunity to see the latest evidence from UK government health professionals on the variant and to understand the international picture along with the implications that it might have for the UK.”
Speaking alongside Scotland’s chief medical officer, Gregor Smith, at a press conference on Monday (29 November) morning, Sturgeon said there was no evidence that any of the six cases in Scotland were linked to climate change conference COP26, held in Glasgow earlier this month.
She admitted it was “not impossible” that the cases were linked to the conference, but said it was “not probable” – and added that if Omicron had been at Cop26, you would expect more to be in circulation now.