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Coronavirus: Over One Million People Arrived in UK by Sea Without Quarantine This Year

Since January, 1.1 million people have arrived in the UK by sea, with 346,000 arrivals taking place in March and April alone, despite the coronavirus lockdown which saw millions of Britons effectively quarantined in their homes.

On March 23rd, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a police-enforced lockdown, with Britons told to only go out for essential items or exercise once a day in an attempt to slow the spread of the Chinese coronavirus.

However, the prime minister faced criticism for ordering citizens to go into effective house arrest, whilst the country’s external borders remained open to travellers.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage remarked at the time that it was “all too late” as aeroplanes from virus hotspots like Italy, China, and Iran kept arriving.

Britain is still under a relative lockdown, albeit some restrictions have been lifted. But only this week has the government introduced a fortnight quarantine for any travellers arriving by boat, plane, or train from abroad, the exemption being travellers coming from the Republic of Ireland.

It had been observed that the UK was an “outlier” for having imposed no entry restrictions at all, despite some 130 countries worldwide imposing closed borders, travel bans, and quarantines to protect their citizens. The astounding figures of entry since the New Year cast doubt on whether the government had thought through its pandemic strategy.

Sir David Skegg, emeritus professor of epidemiology at the University of Otago in New Zealand, told the Home Affairs Select Committee on Wednesday in comments reported by The Times: “These border measures would be most effective if they were done very early.”

“As with New Zealand, all these cases were imported. This disease did not originate in the UK. It would have been much more effective if you’d done this in February,” Sir David added.

 Prof Gabriel Leung of Hong Kong University also told the select committee: “If you look around the world, the places that have imposed border restrictions earlier on have tended to come out much better with local outbreaks.”
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