Welsh Health Minister ‘reluctantly’ agrees to change international travel rules
Wales’ health minister Eluned Morgan has ‘reluctantly’ agreed to make changes to the rules for international travel.
The Welsh government has said that due to the ongoing risks of coronavirus, including the recent and rapid emergence of the omicron variant, “we continue to advise against all but essential international travel at this time.”
However, “in line with decisions being taken elsewhere in the UK, I have today reluctantly agreed to remove the requirements for fully vaccinated travellers and under 18s to take a pre departure test (PDT) and a day 2 PCR test when arriving in the UK.” Eluned Morgan said in a statement.
All fully vaccinated travellers will need to take an LFD test at day 2 and, if positive, a follow-up PCR test to enable genomic sequencing to be carried out. The requirement to self-isolate until a negative test has been received has also been removed.
The requirements for non-vaccinated travellers remain unchanged.
These changes will begin to come into force from 4am on Friday 7 January. Lateral flow tests will be accepted as post-arrival tests from 4am on Sunday 9 January.
Eluned Morgan said: “We are concerned at the speed at which the UK Government is re-opening international travel, given on-going concerns of importing new variants and adding additional pressure to our health services.”
“Day 2 PCR testing acts as something of a surveillance system for international travel – if we had retained the requirement for a day 2 PCR test, we may have been alerted to the presence and introduction of omicron earlier.”
“Given the UK Government’s decision to remove PCR testing, it is vital we work across the four nations to ensure a system of bio-surveillance is maintained to provide a way of guarding against the importation of future variants.” She said.
The health minister said: “While our public health system is working very hard to minimise the spread of cases already in Wales, it is imperative that we do everything we can to avoid undermining these efforts by importing new cases of coronavirus infections via international travel.”
“We continue to encourage everyone in Wales to get vaccinated including having a booster vaccine, which is vital in increasing protection against the omicron variant.” She added.
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