India’s explosive surge in coronavirus cases should give “real pause for thought” to the UK Government before it reopens international travel, Wales’ First Minister has said.
Mark Drakeford warned that the improving public health situation in the UK could be put at risk by the “wild card” of an imported strain of the virus from another part of the globe.
Wales has eight confirmed cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19 from people who have returned from India, with each being monitored by their area’s public health teams.
On Friday, Mr Drakeford told the PA news agency that an expected third wave of the virus in the UK could be triggered by newer strain from elsewhere.
He said: “Just remember that there is another sort of big wild card in all of this, and that is the importation of the virus from other parts of the world.
“We have cases of the Indian variant in Wales, as we’ve had cases of the South African variant.
“The UK Government has a very important decision to make about May 17 and the reopening of international travel.
“I really hope that what we’ve seen in India in the last week will give them real pause for thought, and that we don’t run the risk of opening up international travel too quickly on too broad a front, and that results in the virus coming back into Wales.
“That could make a difference to all our calculations.”
Passengers on flights into the UK from India must quarantine in a Government-approved hotel for 10 days after it was added to the UK’s Covid travel red list, and anyone who is not a UK or Irish resident or a British citizen is banned from entering the UK if they have been in India in the previous 10 days.
The restrictions come in response to mounting concern about the number of Covid-19 cases in India and the emergence there of a variant of the virus.