UK worried about second wave in Europe, more quarantine measures possible

A vending machine that sells protective masks is seen in a shopping centre, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Ilford, London, Britain on July 29, 2020. (REUTERS Photo)
A vending machine that sells protective masks is seen in a shopping centre, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Ilford, London, Britain on July 29, 2020. (REUTERS Photo)

LONDON, July 30 (Reuters): The British authorities are worried about a second wave of coronavirus infections in Europe and will not hesitate to bring back more quarantine measures, possibly within the next few days, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Thursday.

Britain last week re-imposed a 14-day quarantine period on people arriving from Spain, a move that caused havoc to plans to reopen the continent for tourism in the summer high season.

Hancock stopped short of naming other European countries that might also end up back on the UK quarantine list, but cited France as an example of one where infections have lately risen.

"I am worried about a second wave. 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," Hancock said during an interview on Sky News.

"We have significant concerns about the second wave that is coming across Europe. And it's not just Spain ... but there are other countries too where the number of cases is rising. And we are absolutely determined to do everything that we can to keep this country safe," he said.

When asked whether Britons should be prepared for more measures to be announced within the next few days, he said yes.

"The number of cases have gone up sharply in some countries in Europe ... France now has more cases than we do, per day, and in Spain we saw the numbers shoot up which is why we had to take the rapid action that we did," he said on Talk Radio.

France reported almost 1,400 new cases on Wednesday, the highest daily increase in more than a month.

Hancock said the British authorities were working on possible ways to shorten the quarantine period for people coming from Spain, but no change was imminent.

"We are working on whether by testing people during that quarantine it is safe to then be able to release them earlier ... But we are not imminently making an announcement on it," he said in a BBC television interview.

He said that in Britain, the number of cases had stopped falling and was at best flat, which was a result of increased social contact as lockdown measures have gradually been eased. He urged people to keep following social distancing guidelines.