No10 must ‘urgently’ release the data that persuaded ministers to hit France with new ‘amber-plus’ list restrictions, statisticians have demanded.
Experts want the government to justify the move, which has led to thousands of holidaymakers.
Currently, everyone coming from France has to self-isolate for ten days, even if they are double stung. But people who have had both vaccine doses and come from other “amber” list areas don’t need to go into quarantine.
The government says it introduced the new restrictions because of the “continued presence” of the South African “beta” variant, which scientists say can evade immunity from vaccines.
But data shows that Spain and Greece have more cases of the mutated variant, prompting scientists to question the “bizarre” decision. In both holiday hotspots, infection rates are also higher.
It led to fears that Spain, Britain’s most popular holiday destination, could also be subject to the strict rules.
But ministers last night insisted there were no plans to add the country to the same amber plus list, despite the beta variant being more prevalent there.
The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) has now called on the government to publish the exact figures behind its decision on France.
Ministers say they have moved France to the ‘amber-plus’ list due to ‘ongoing cases’ of the South African ‘beta’ variant that scientists fear could evade vaccine immunity. But it is more common in Spain and Greece, which have not been added to the new category. The graph above shows the number of positive cases in each country per 100,000 inhabitants
Travelers from France must now be quarantined, even if they are double stung. In the photo: people enjoying the beach in Aquitaine, France
83% THINK JACKED BRITISH SHOULD GO ABROAD WITHOUT PRECIOUS TESTS
More than four in five Britons – 83 per cent – believe that holidaymakers who have been completely abandoned should be able to go abroad without undergoing expensive tests on their return, a poll shows.
According to a survey of 2000 adults commissioned by easyJet, more than half (58 per cent) said it took too long for a ‘vaccine dividend’ to be paid for the double jab.
About 61 percent said they were more likely to travel once they were fully vaccinated. The average cost of a government-approved PCR test is around £100.
It said: ‘Key policy decisions are still being announced, ostensibly based on data, but without published evidence – most recently the decision to put France on the amber-plus list, affecting the plans of millions.
“We expect that evidence to be published urgently.”
It added: “A lack of transparency threatens to undermine public confidence and weaken people’s ability to make their own decisions about how to respond to the threats posed by the pandemic.”
Professor Sylvia Richardson, the chairman of the RSS and a statistician at the University of Cambridge, told MailOnline that it appeared the government was relying on outdated figures to justify additional restrictions on travelers coming from France.
She said ministers were shocked last week when France released its variant figures, including cases identified on Réunion Island – 5,500 miles from the mainland, but where the mutated strain accounts for 90 percent of the cases.
But separate data released Monday night separated the islands from the mainland, showing that France actually had a much lower number of cases of the South African variant.
She said: ‘I think the decision of the government’ [to place France on the amber-plus list] is not justified in light of the new data that emerged on Monday.
‘[These new figures] would justify removing France from the amber plus list.’
Professor Richard Tedder, a clinical virologist from Imperial College London, also dismissed the additional restrictions on travelers from France, saying it appeared to be ‘hypocrisy’.
“I actually think it’s a bit hypocritical,” he tells MailOnline.
“I wish they were as proactive about our home-grown virus as the French viruses.”
Covid cases in Britain have gained momentum in recent days, with experts warning they could reach 100,000 a day by August.
Professor Tedder said the high number of cases endangers new ‘generations of variants’ that will be able to evade vaccine-induced immunity.
Ministers say they have moved France to the newly created amber-plus list due to ongoing cases of the South African variant.
Data collected by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) suggested that the mutated strain was responsible for 3.4 percent of the infections investigated in the week to July 4, the most recent available.
In comparison: in Spain it was no less than 20.2 percent behind in the same period and in Greece 13.4 percent.
A new travel regime kicked off Monday at 4am, eliminating the need for double-shot travelers arriving from more than 140 amber countries to quarantine on arrival, effectively turning these destinations green for the fully vaccinated.
Tourism industry leaders have also called on the government to release the data used to justify their decision, labeling the move a “total disaster.”
John Lundgren, the CEO of easyJet, criticized the government for ‘changing the goal posts’ around foreign travel.
‘The message [to ministers] would be, provide clear and transparent data that you use when making decisions.
“It’s not enough to just say ‘we’re looking at cases of infections, we’re looking at variants of care, we’re looking at vaccination levels’. That’s all clear. But you also have to tell us what the numbers are.’
The President of the Institute of Travel and Tourism Dr. Steven Freudmann told the told I the move affected confidence in the sector.
“If they provide us with scientific evidence, they may be able to convince us, but they don’t, making us more suspicious of some hidden agenda or political motives for treating France differently when there is no evidence.”
dr. Freudmann added that it was a “constant frustration” that in many cases tourism authorities were not provided with “the scientific insights or the facts.”