The British government has introduced testing requirements for citizens from European Union member states in a bid to reduce the spread of Omicron, the new alternative to the COVID-19 virus.
The decision means that from Tuesday, December 7, vaccinated and unvaccinated European citizens are required to present a negative LFD or PCR pre-departure test certificate, no older than 48 hours, in order to enter the UK, TheSchengen.com reports.
This procedure includes all children 12 years of age and older and, in addition to the test result, must submit a completed Passenger Locator Form that has been carried out within the last 48 hours of departure. Due to the unpredictability of Omicron, travelers are advised to take the test as close as possible to the time of departure.
Furthermore, the test must meet performance criteria of 97 percent specificity and 80 percent sensitivity for loads greater than 100,000 copies per milliliter, including tests such as PCR, LAMP, and antigen testing, such as the LFD (lateral flow device) test.
Commenting on the matter, Minister of State for Health and Welfare Sajid Javid said that the winter is expected to be challenging, but the new virus variant has further complicated matters.
“As our world-leading scientists continue to understand more about the Omicron variant, we are taking decisive action to protect public health and the progress of the COVID-19 vaccination programme. I urge everyone to do their part to slow the spread by following the new travel rules, and the wearing of masks was mandatory,” Javid said. And, most importantly, get a booster syringe on call.
Moreover, the British government has imposed strict entry rules for arrivals from Nigeria, with 21 cases of Omicron reported in the UK linked to travelers from this country. Therefore, from Monday, December 6, arrivals from Nigeria are required to self-quarantine for ten days on arrival and take two PCR tests. The same rule applies to the rest of the Red List, which consists of Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Recently, the Spanish government introduced testing requirements for southern African countries, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, in order to prevent the virus from spreading further.
However, travel and tourism organizations do not support such measures, as the International Air Transport Association previously stated that travel restrictions do not really affect the spread of the virus. According to a blog posted earlier on their site, the travel ban announced by the EU member states is based on policy and that South Africa is not a threat as positive cases of the virus have been observed on three continents altogether.