Just 1 in every 200 travellers from amber list countries testing positive for Covid

By Claire Schofield
Monday, 21st June 2021, 1:08 pm
No “variants of concern” were reported among any passengers returning from amber countries (Photo: Getty Images)

Just one in every 200 travellers returning to the UK from an amber listed country are testing positive for Covid-19 new data shows.

Figures from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) show that a total of 89 out of 23,465 people who arrived back in the UK from an amber list country between 20 May and 9 June tested positive for the virus, which is a positivity rate of around 0.4 per cent.

Calls to relax travel restrictions

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No positive Covid-19 cases were brought into the UK from 151 out of the 167 nations currently on the UK government’s amber list, according to NHS Test and Trace figures.

The rate of positivity among travellers returning from amber list countries is significantly lower than the average of people who received PCR Covid-19 tests in the seven days prior to 15 June, with 2.7 per cent testing positive.

In addition, figures show that no “variants of concern” were reported among any passengers returning to the UK from an amber list country during these dates.

Zero travellers from the 11 countries on the green travel list tested positive for Covid during the same timeframe, although only 503 people returning to the UK from destinations on this list during 20 May to 9 June.

A total of 435 out of 24,511 people (1.8 per cent) of travellers returning from red list countries had Covid-19 when they arrived back in the UK over this same period, and 89 variants of concern were detected.

However, the UK government has warned that not all of the data from travellers has yet been sequenced, meaning that variants could be detected in passengers’ swabs at a later time.

The latest data has led to calls from backbench Conservative MPs and travel industry bosses for the government to relax its approach to foreign holidays.

Henry Smith MP, chair of the parliamentary Future of Aviation Group, said that the figures showed that “our current chaotic and overly cautious approach to international travel is not based on data at all.”

The government is now facing pressure to review the travel traffic light system, as experts say a change of policy is needed.

Paul Charles, the chief executive of travel consultancy the PC Agency, told the Daily Telegraph: “The government’s own testing data clearly show amber countries are low-risk, with no variants of concern to worry about and increasing vaccination rates.

"The data proves that a change of policy is now needed.

“A wider green list and more flexibility for those [who are] double jabbed would boost consumer confidence, generate more bookings and help travel firms to recover faster.

“With this NHS data, no government minister has an excuse to delay reopening now.”


When will the travel list be reviewed?

The UK government is due to review the travel traffic light system on 24 June, before any changes are confirmed on Monday (28 June).

The travel lists are due to be reviewed every three weeks, following an evaluation of the Covid-19 risk posed by different countries.

The third review will take place on 15 July, just before all lockdown restrictions end in England on 19 July.