12:13 GMT18 January 2021
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    The United Kingdom has quickly begun to lift many of the travel restrictions introduced to prevent new cases of coronavirus arriving in the country. Arrivals from a number of countries will no longer have to self-isolate for 2-weeks.

    Britain's Home Secretary Priti Patel admitted on Wednesday that she does not know the number of people entering the UK who are estimated to be infected with coronavirus but she believed that around 0.5% of the overall number of coronavirus cases in the country were introduced from abroad.

    Speaking to the Commons home affairs select committee, the Home Secretary claimed that she had previously inquired about the estimated number of people foreign arrivals who had the disease.

    Responding to a point raised last week by civil servant Shona Dunn - who also attended Wednesday's meeting - that Patel had not asked for such information, the Home Secretary said that was “not correct at all”.

    “I have asked for it, Patel said.

    Dunn said that the Home Secretary had “has asked for a variety of numbers” but she was “not aware of anyone have asked for a formal assessment” of the number.

    In response to a question about how many people she estimated were currently coming into the country coronavirus, Patel said that she did not know.

    “On a daily basis the number of people coming into the country is approximately 50,000", she said.
    “I don’t have a figure of people coming into the country on a daily basis with coronavirus."
    “That figure is held centrally elsewhere in government with Department for Health [and Social Care] and Public Health England", she added.

    In June, the UK introduced a 2-week quarantine rule for all overseas arrivals in order to prevent new cases from being imported from abroad.

    Since 4 July, the government has introduced a series of "travel corridors" with up to 58 countries with similar rates of infection where travellers will not have to stay isolated for 14-days.

    The UK's travel quarantine was criticised for its belated introduction. Prof Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, cited Australia's quick identification of large numbers of cases being brought into the country from overseas, resulting in a prompt blocking of entry for all non-nationals.

    The admission by the Home Secretary also comes as concerns are raised about the coronavirus pandemic among unregistered migrants to the UK.

    In May, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage posted footage of boats full of migrants being escorted by a French Naval vessel across the English channel into British waters where it was met by the UK border force. 

    Throughout the pandemic, asylum seekers have been placed into a series of hotels and hostels in Glasgow and elsewhere by Mears Group - the British Home Office’s subcontractor - in order to contain the COVID-19 crisis.

    Tags:
    Priti Patel, migration, travel restrictions, coronavirus, COVID-19
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