UK Officials Confirm 'Second Wave is Rolling Across Europe'
Health Secretary Matt Hancock 'worried' - Boris Johnson 'extremely concerned'
UK officials have confirmed that a "second wave" of COVID-19 has "started to roll across Europe" following a recent spike in cases.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned Thursday morning that the second coronavirus wave has sparked "serious concern" as it is "clearly now moving across Europe."
Hancock hinted that Britain may place UK quarantine restrictions on more travel destinations on the continent in the coming days and weeks.
The health secretary also confirmed the Government is "looking at" plans to raise the current seven-day self-isolation period up to ten days if they test positive for coronavirus.
"I am worried about a second wave," Hancock told Sky News.
"I think you can see a second wave starting to roll across Europe, and we’ve got to do everything we can to prevent it from reaching these shores, and to tackle it."
He added that "it’s not just Spain" that is a concern, despite the Mediterranean country being at the center of a row over quarantine rules for British residents traveling home.
It follows reports that the Government is set to announce changes to self-isolation rules later today.
The changes could see those with COVID-19 symptoms told to quarantine for 10 days instead of seven.
Hinting that these changes could go ahead, Hancock said: "This is a decision that’s clinically led.
"The chief medical officer [Chris Whitty] will be setting out details later today.
"I can’t steal his thunder but what I will say is we will always do what is necessary to protect people and we’re guided by the clinical judgment, by the science in this."
The Health Secretary also said ministers were investigating ways to reduce the 14-day quarantine period for new arrivals to the UK from at-risk countries.
He added: "We’re always looking at how we can have the least-possible burden of the measures that we have to put into place so that is something on which we’re doing some work but we’ll only come forward with a proposal when we’re confident that it is safe to do so.
"So again this is very much guided by the clinical science and the CMO (chief medical officer) will be speaking on it later today, but the broader point is that there’s a serious concern about a second wave that’s clearly now moving across Europe and we need to take action.
"If that means increasing the number of days that people who test positive have to self-isolate then so be it because these measures are necessary to keep people safe."
Matt Hancock says he is worried about a second wave of #COVID19 and says the government "won't hesitate to act" if countries that are currently exempt from quarantine have a spike in cases.#KayBurley— SkyNews (@SkyNews) July 30, 2020
Read the latest here: https://t.co/Nv46vr19Wd pic.twitter.com/aNMHh0YAUk
It comes after the UK decided to remove Spain from its list of safe countries following a rise of infections, requiring travelers returning from the country to self-isolate for 14 days.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called the decision ‘unjust’ and argued parts of Britain are more prone to infections than the Balearic and Canary Islands as well as the regions of Valencia and Andalusia.
It follows reports of ministers discussing plans to cut the self-isolation requirement for those coming back from Spain to 10 days.
The proposal would involve testing arrivals from high-risk countries eight days after they land.
If they test negative they will be allowed to come out of self-isolation two days later, reducing the mandatory quarantine period by four days, according to the Telegraph.
The "R rate" is now thought to be above one in two areas of the UK – the South West and South East.
Earlier this week Prime Minister Boris Johnson was said to be "extremely concerned" that a second wave could hit the country within two weeks.
While the country is past its initial peak of infections, rises were recorded each day last week for the first time since April.
This brings the seven-day average to nearly 700 – up 28% from the previous three weeks.