Covid UK schools and travel update 9-July-2021
As social restrictions are removed in the UK, and with the emergence of the more infectious Covid-19 Delta variant, rates of infection are rising. The previous waves have been characterised by high levels of hospitalisation and a significant number of premature deaths in the older population. This time, because of the high level of vaccination in the older adult population, these are much lower, but the circulation of infection in the younger population is still of concern.
The government has accepted that it will not be possible to prevent the spread of infection in the younger population, but the health risks are minor, and we should start to learn to live with Covid-19 as we do with seasonal influenza.
Regular testing of school children will continue, but when a case is found, only that child will move to isolation with remote learning; the other children in the class, year group and school will continue as normal, with close contacts advised to take a PCR test. This will minimise disruption to teaching and learning.
Also this week, the UK Government Transport Secretary made a statement to Parliament about plans to reduce restrictions on international travel from the 19th July. Many of the changes are intended to help the travel industry and to enable people in the UK to take overseas holidays this summer. Key points were:
• The guidance recommending against travel to amber-list countries will be removed;
• UK residents who have been fully vaccinated in the UK will no longer have to quarantine for 10 days on their return from amber list countries. The Day 8 PCR test will also be discontinued (still need pre-flight and Day 2 PCR tests);
• Children under 18 years of age (who are not yet eligible for vaccination in the UK) will not need to quarantine.
International students studying in the UK are treated as UK Residents during their stay. We are seeking confirmation via AEGIS and the BSA that international students under 18 years travelling to the UK from amber list countries will not be required to quarantine on arrival.
In conclusion, despite the resurgence of infection rates in the UK this summer, there is much cause for optimism that we will return to safer and less disrupted travel and education in the new school year.