German politician calls for UK to be placed on ‘virus variant’ list

UK parliament westminster
The UK parliament buildings in Westminster, London. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/PA Wire | Tim Ireland
Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) has urged authorities to place the United Kingdom on Germany's 'virus variant' list as cases of the Omicron variant continue to spike.

Appearing on the RTL morning programme Frühstart, Holetschek called for a “quick” decision on the situation in the UK and the rapid imposition of travel restrictions. 

“I would like the federal government to take a close look at when Great Britain becomes a virus-variant area and that a PCR test must be presented as mandatory when entering the country by plane,” Holetschek said in an appearance on the RTL programme Frühstart.

READ ALSO: Germany must brace for ‘unstoppable’ Omicron wave, warn scientists

Holetschek pointed out that the numbers in Great Britain were increasing “vehemently” and that one should “not wait too long” with a corresponding decision.

It would make sense if, in future, people entering Germany from the UK had to present a PCR test that was no more than 24 hours old, he argued. 

On Thursday, France became the first European country to shut the doors on travel from the UK due to the wave of Omicron infections occurring in the country.

As of midnight on Saturday, entry from and exit to Great Britain will only be possible for “compelling reasons”, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Thursday. Tourist or professional reasons are not among them.

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is expected to announce the latest updates to its ‘risk list’ on Friday afternoon, which could see the United Kingdom upgraded from a ‘high risk’ to a ‘virus variant’ area. 

This would mean that only residents and citizens were allowed to enter the country, and those who do arrive will have to quarantine for at least 14 days – with no option of shorting the period of self-isolation. 

11,000 confirmed cases 

Since Omicron was first discovered on UK soil, more than 11,000 cases of the highly transmissible variant have been confirmed across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

An addition 37,000 or so cases were indicated by PCR test results. 

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However, this is believed to be a large underestimation of the real case numbers, which include undetected or symptomless cases.

According to the UK’s Health Minister Sajid Javid, mathematical models undertaken by the industry suggest that Omicron may be infecting around 200,000 people a day, with the vast majority of cases going undetected. 

On Wednesday, the newly discovered variant overtook Delta as the dominant Covid variant in London. Cases are currently doubling in the country in less than two days. 

Meanwhile, Germany has recorded 112 confirmed cases of Omicron by genome sequencing, with more than 200 further cases suspected. 

READ ALSO: Hold Christmas parties in Germany online to stave off Omicron, says RKI

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  1. Having just subscribed last weekend, I find that yor website for Germany was last updated on 17 Dec (today is 22/12). Thus completely useless for anyone trying to keep up to date with the latest German COVID travel etc. What is the point of your website?

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