Summer holidays abroad could be axed as new more potent Covid strain found in UK

Holidays abroad could be scrapped this summer following the discovery of a deadly new coronavirus strain.

Domestic trips were expected to resume from April 12 following the launch of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's roadmap to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions last week, with a date for foreign holidays yet to be announced.

But plans could be ditched after a new Covid variant has arrived in Britain from Brazil, with one of six people to test positive on Friday and Saturday going missing as tracers try to track them down.

Surge testing for the new mutation is being launched in South Gloucestershire after two people at a home in South Gloucestershire were found to be infected.

Labour MP Yvette Cooper warned against booking summer holidays abroad, adding that border controls may need to get stricter.

"There is a concern about whether the government is raising expectations about summer holidays that they may not be able to meet," She told Radio 4's Today Programme.

"This will depend on the relationship between the spread of these new variants and what happens with the vaccine.

"We've been advised on the committee by scientists that the strength of these border measures become even more important as domestic cases fall.

"As our own cases fall and as the economy and society opens up, they argue that that's when you actually need stronger measure at the border rather than reduce them.

"The government is encouraging people to think that those summer holidays are all going to be possible and international travel is going to return."

Earlier today, however, the Prime Minister said his plans to leave lockdown restrictions were "irreversible."

Speaking at a school in Stoke, he said: "What we are doing is embarking now on a journey, a one-way road map to freedom and it is designedly cautious in order to be irreversible.

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"We don’t think there’s any reason on this basis to change that now.

"Some people say we should go faster, some people say we should be more hesitant. I think we are going at the right pace."

The Manaus P1 strain, which is believed to have brought into the England via a flight from Sao Paulo in Brazil to Heathrow Airport on February 10, is understood to be far more contagious and potent than others already found in the UK.

SAGE member Professor Graham Medley told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It is a variant of concern but we are going to be faced with these in the next six months as we move towards relaxing measures.

"There are going to be challenges on the way, and there is always a risk that we might have to go backwards, and that's what nobody wants to do is to actually open up and then have to close down again.

"So monitoring these variants, keeping an eye on in terms of what they actually do – so sequencing, for example, viruses in hospitals – I think is a crucial step to know whether or not this variant and other variants in the future, what impact they're actually having."

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