Concerns about border rules have intensified following the detection of the UK’s first cases of the Manaus variant of coronavirus.
The PA news agency answers eight key questions on the issue:
– How did these cases arrive?
The identified cases involved people flying from Brazil to the UK via Paris or Zurich.
– What questions does this raise about quarantine?
Some people believe arrivals from Brazil should have faced tougher measures earlier than they did, including the requirement to quarantine in a hotel.
– When did we know about the Manaus variant?
The variant was detected in Brazil and in travellers from Brazil to Japan in January.
It is linked to a surge of cases in Manaus late last year.
– What did the UK Government initially do?
Direct flights from Brazil to the UK have been banned since January 15.
But UK nationals or residents have continued to be allowed to return via indirect routes as long as they quarantine for 10 days.
Initially there was no mandatory testing on arrival.
– Was this controversial?
Arrivals were allowed to travel to their home or another location to begin their self-isolation.
It is likely that many people made this journey on public transport, mixing with the general population.
– What has changed?
The requirement to enter a quarantine hotel was introduced on February 15.
Since that date, arrivals have also been required to take a coronavirus test on days two and eight of their self-isolation period.
– What are people saying about the Government’s response?
Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the situation highlighted “gaps” in the system.
She told the Today programme that the Government should be “learning lessons” from countries such as South Korea, that have extra precautions including testing of arrivals at airports.
– What is the Government saying?
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi insisted that the UK’s border controls are “pretty stringent”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Even countries that had hotel quarantine, like Australia, still have to deal with the variants actually challenging them in the same way they challenge us.”