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Seven Greek islands added to UK's 14-day quarantine list

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By Lauren Chadwick
People gather as the sun sets in Little Venice on the Aegean Sea island of Mykonos, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020.
People gather as the sun sets in Little Venice on the Aegean Sea island of Mykonos, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020.   -   Copyright  Thanassis Stavrakis/AP Photo   -  

Travellers arriving in England from seven Greek islands will have to quarantine from 4 a.m. London time on Wednesday, UK transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced.

Holidaymakers travelling from Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini and Zakynthos will have to self-isolate for 14 days after returning from the islands due to rising coronavirus cases.

"Data from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England has indicated a significant risk to UK public health from those islands, leading to Ministers removing them from the current list of travel corridors," the transport department said in a press release.

The announcement came as part of a new policy that allows the UK to add and remove islands from the UK's quarantine exception list, Shapps said in the House of Commons. Mainland Greece will thus remain on England's travel exemption list.

The UK first issued travel quarantines for many international countries and territories determined to be at risk for COVID-19, often with incidence rates higher than in the UK.

Shapps also addressed questions about testing in airports potentially replacing quarantine policies, explaining that "it sounds completely logical and yet... it simply will not capture most of those who are asymptomatic" due to the incubation period of COVID-19.

"Quarantine combined with testing is more promising. So we are working actively on the practicality of releasing people earlier than 14 days," Shapps said.

The news about Greek islands being added to the UK's quarantine list could create a rush for British travellers to get back to the UK before the quarantine is in place.

Wales recently issued a quarantine on Greek islands. It came after nearly 200 passengers on a flight returning from Zakynthos were asked to self-isolate after several cases were found on the flight.