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Published on Monday, February 8, 2021

Passengers set to be tested twice to prevent spread of virus

The Government is expected to announce this week that all travellers entering the country are to be tested twice for Covid in plans to prevent the spread of new variants.

Ministers have already instructed that tests be given on day two and day eight for passengers from the 33 'red list' countries to be quarantined in Government hotels from February 15.

According to reports, Health Secretary Matt Hancock will announce this week that the tests will be extended to all arrivals who currently have to quarantine at home.

It will mean all travellers will have three Covid tests, the first within 72 hours of departure to enter the country, followed by those on the second and eighth day of quarantine.

A Department of Health spokesman told The Telegraph on Saturday: "Enhancing our testing regime to cover all arrivals while they isolate will provide a further level of protection and enable us to better track any new cases which might be brought into the country, and give us even more opportunities to detect new variants."

The first hotels that have agreed to take quarantined 'red list' travellers have also been announced and include Best Western, Accor, Oyo and Taj Hotels. The Telegraph reported that the hotels were set a 5pm deadline as the Government raced to reserve up to 28,000 rooms for the 1,425 passengers a day required by February 15 to self-isolate in them.

Meanwhile government advisers are reported to be suggesting GPS tracking to ensure travellers quarantine as an alternative to mandatory hotel stays.

The Times reports today that the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) is advising 'electronic monitoring' would help improve waning compliance with quarantine.

The Times says Government sources said there were no plans to track travellers through their mobile phones, but ministers are under increasing pressure over plans for arrivals from high-risk countries to quarantine in hotels.

By Louise Longman, Contributing Editor (UK)

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