A top scientist has warned that it won’t be possible to stop the Brazilian coronavirus variant from getting into the UK amid concerns about its potency among young people.
Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the Government urged harsh restrictions on international travel in a bid to keep the mutant strain out as much as possible.
He told Sky News he supported a traffic light system for foreign travel, adding: “So if we’re talking about travelling directly to a country with a very low rate of the disease, and if the proper precautions are taken in that you’re fully tested or fully vaccinated, then I think it is quite feasible to allow people to travel overseas.
“But I think it should be on a very restricted basis.
“I think we know that the South African variant, for example, has come into this country. There’s a significant take up of it here.
“And the Brazilian variant – I don’t believe we can keep it out of the country.
“So the importance of the fine test, trace, isolate and support system just cannot be overestimated.”
Sir David was speaking as the virus continued to rip through South America’s largest country.
More than 350,000 people have died of Covid-19 in Brazil, while at least 13,400,000 cases have been detected.
Unlike some other countries which have managed to get the rate of infection under control, Brazil’s has risen sharply in recent months.
Part of the reason why is the P1 variant, which is believed to be a highly infectious mutation of the virus that appears to be more fatal among young people.
Some researchers in Brazil have found that cases among 30 to 60-year-olds have risen six-fold since the variant emerged.
At the weekend it was reported that more under-39s in the country – around 11,000 – were in intensive care with Covid than over-39s for the first time during the pandemic.
Lawrence Young, a professor of molecular oncology at Warwick Medical School, told The Sun: “Seeing more young people sick is a concern.
“It’s difficult to tease apart the direct effect of a virus, versus what happens when a health system becomes overwhelmed.
“But it’s just more reasons to be careful, including young people, and to make sure we dont bring a new variant into this country.”
Brazil is currently the global epicenter of the virus, with daily deaths topping 4,000 last week.
President Jair Bolsonaro has drawn widespread criticism for his approach to the coronavirus, which he has described as a “little flu.”
He has repeatedly ignored calls of health experts to wear masks and railed against the use of lockdown measures.
His response is now due to be probed amid concerns he failed to introduce adequate measures to stop the outbreak in the South American country.
“What you are dealing with here is a raging inferno of an outbreak,” said Bruce Aylward, senior adviser to the director general of the World Health Organization, in a public briefing.
Supreme Court Justice Luis Roberto Barroso ruled late on Thursday that enough senators had signed on to a proposed inquiry on the government’s pandemic response to launch the probe despite stalling by Senate leadership.