Nicola Sturgeon questions traffic light system and warns 'we don't know where' the next Covid variant will come from

Nicola Sturgeon has criticised the traffic light system for international travel and warned “we don't know where” the next coronavirus variant will come from.
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon today warned the current measures did not protect against new variantsFirst Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon today warned the current measures did not protect against new variants
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon today warned the current measures did not protect against new variants

The First Minister has questioned the policy adopted by the UK Government, which sees different countries given a red or green light depending on how dangerous the are considered.

Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Ms Sturgeon asked why the UK had adopted a policy that only reacted to where the variants were.

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Demanding a tougher approach, she said: “We are seeing new variants appear in different parts of the world.

“The variant that has caused us in Scotland and others in most parts of the UK the most problem over the last few months is the Kent variant, the one that led us all into lockdown again over Christmas and into the early part of the year.

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“We don’t know where the variants of real concern are going to come from, which is why an approach to international travel that tries to categorise risk with some countries categorised as red list countries and other countries deemed to be safer poses a risk.

“Unfortunately, none of us know right now where the next variant that will be really problematic is going to occur.

“We’ve got to be very careful as we continue to suppress things at home we don’t allow it to be reseeded with more dangerous variants from elsewhere.

“If I look back to the later past of last summer as we came out of the first lockdown, we almost eliminated the strains of the virus that were circulating here, but we probably opened up international travel too quickly.

“We allowed the virus to reseed into our domestic population and I think it’s important we try and avoid that in the weeks and months ahead.”

Currently just three key intercontinental destinations are graded red – Canada, Mexico and South Africa.

At present holidays and family visits abroad are illegal.

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This approach has been recommended by the government's Global Travel Taskforce.

Countries in each category will be kept under review and the UK Government will respond to data, focusing on variants of concern

Last week UK travel secretary Grant Shapps said foreign holidays would resume on May 17 at the earliest.

He said: "This is the first time I'm able to come on and say I'm not advising against booking foreign holidays.

"Yes, you'll want to check what the situation is in two or three weeks' time when that list – the green, amber, red, is produced – you'll want to know that you've got good holiday insurance and flexible flights and the rest of it.

"But for the first time I think there is light at the end of the tunnel and we'll be able to restart international travel, including cruises by the way, in a safe and secure way, knowing about the vaccinations, everything we know about the disease this year, and of course that abundance of caution – having the tests in place."

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