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Wales introduces PCR tests for international travellers

THE Welsh Government have put requirements in place that anyone who travels to Wales from overseas must isolate pending a negative Covid test.

This announcement was made after Prime Minister Boris Johnson implemented it for England in a press conference yesterday.

In a tweet last night Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales said: “Wales is bringing in the same international travel measures as the rest of the UK. The Cabinet will continue to meet this evening and tomorrow to monitor the developing situation and decide if further action is required to protect people’s health.”

Why is this happening?

The governments in the UK have all taken this move to prevent the spread of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 which was detected in the UK this weekend. Two cases of the Omicron variant were located in Nottingham and Brentford in Essex. Scientists are concerned that the vaccines may not be protective against this variant.

What does this mean for me?

If you return from any country outside of the UK, you will have to take a PCR test and isolate until the test result is negative.

However, if you come from a red list country – Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, you will not be able to enter Wales. You will have to return through England or Scotland and quarantine for 10 days and take PCR tests on day two and eight.

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What else is happening?

In a press conference last night, Boris Johnson also issued the return of mandatory face coverings in shops and on public transport. This already applies in Wales as well as in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It does not apply to pubs and restaurants.

Mr Johnson said border measures can “only ever minimise and delay the arrival of a new variant rather than stop it all together”, so all contacts with a suspected case of the new variant will have to isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the country needs to “face up” to the possibility the variant will be a “major issue” if it turns out to be highly-transmissible and evades immunity.

He said that the existing booster programme is the current priority, but that vaccine manufacturers believe they can tweak their existing jabs to better counter Omicron “in about 100 days”.

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, told the press conference on Saturday that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will be tasked with looking at whether boosters can be extended from the over-40s to the over-18s.

They will also consider whether second doses should be offered to 12 to 15-year-olds, and whether the waiting time before a booster jab could be reduced.

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