Greece hit back today on Nicola Sturgeon's "tough" quarantine move as thousands more vacationers were exposed to the chaos.
The Greek Minister of Tourism pointed out that the country's infection rate is "well below" the threshold set by the UK government.
Scotland dramatically declared that arrivals from the popular destination must self-isolate from 4 a.m., while Wales is restricting entry from the island of Zante after a series of cases.
Boris Johnson is now under massive pressure to follow suit. A crunch meeting will take place later.
The measures have sparked anger, however, as the overall infection rate in Greece is still well below the mark used by the UK government to trigger quarantine of 20 cases per 100,000 residents within seven days.
It raises questions about how vacationers can judge whether to travel to destinations, with complaints that the goal posts keep shifting.
Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis insisted that the country "has a much lower number of infections compared to most other countries in Europe". The rate per 100,000 residents in the past seven days is only 14 – well below government alert.
"We have put in place a comprehensive set of protocols and measures," he told BBC Breakfast. “We take targeted action when we see a concentration (of cases).
He added, "We find this a little tough."
The rate of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Greece in the past seven days is only 14 – well below the government's quarantine threshold of 20
Around 190 passengers on a Tui Airways flight landing in Cardiff were asked to self-isolate for 14 days. In the first example of state-sanctioned tests, they are wiped again within 48 hours and again after eight days (photo of a Tui jet)
UK ministers are holding an emergency meeting with Welsh and Scottish officials today on the rules for Greece, while Portugal stands on the sidelines after cases break above government-set mark.
Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething said he would urge the UK government to follow up on the potential risk in Greece Six clusters with more than 30 cases of Covid-19 in the past week.
The cases came from four flights, two of which landed in England.
The tour operator Tui has announced that it will no longer offer holidays in the resort of Laganas on Zante.
Mr Johnson is now facing increasing pressure to put Greece on the UK's quarantine list after Scotland and Wales placed restrictions on Brits returning from the vacation hotspot.
Nicola Sturgeon's government mandates two weeks of self-isolation for anyone arriving after 4 a.m. on Thursday, while their Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford has singled out the party island of Zante.
Countries on the UK government's quarantine list
Around 190 passengers who flew from Zante to Cardiff on a Tui Airways flight last night have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days. In the first example of government-sanctioned tests, they are wiped off again within 48 hours and after eight days.
"Our public health teams have concerns that current guidance and control measures for returning travelers are inadequate," said Gething.
He added that all passengers on a flight from Zante to Cardiff would be asked to quarantine Tuesday evening and receive two Covid-19 tests, one within 48 hours and another eight days after their return.
"I also urged an early meeting with the UK government and decentralized nations (today) to review the recent risk assessment by the Joint Biosecurity Center," he said.
"It is clear that we need to consider the potential for regulatory changes in Wales that would require travelers coming to the UK from Greece and possibly elsewhere to self-isolate on their return."
Andrew Flintham, Managing Director of Tui UK and Ireland, said: & # 39; Laganas is a popular holiday destination for young people who traditionally holiday in large groups of friends.
& # 39; The health and safety of our colleagues and customers is our primary concern and recent cases show that some customers are not following social distancing and Covid safety measures.
& # 39; It is therefore right to protect and reduce a now identified potential risk to others by no longer offering vacations at this particular resort.
& # 39; Recent cases in Wales highlighted a demographic of customers who recently returned from Zante and subsequently tested positive. As the only airline that flies between Cardiff and Zante, we have been able to understand trends that are also being seen in other regions of the UK. & # 39;
The trips to all other resorts in Zante will continue as usual.
Gregor Smith, Scotland's Chief Medical Officer, said: "The importation of the virus poses an imperative public health risk, especially given the number of import cases linked to the Greek islands.
"The flow of travel between Scotland and Greece, and the behavior of some of those travelers, mean there is a strong public health case – supported by public health directors – to remove Greece from the exemption list."
The move came when vacationers wanted to return from Portugal because of growing concerns about restricting arrivals from there again.
With thousands of Britons traveling to Portugal since the country was exempt from quarantine on Aug. 22, increasing cases prompted airlines to increase capacity as vacationers rush to return in case restrictions are reinstated.
In the seven days leading up to August 31, there were 22.3 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Portugal, up from 14.5 the week before. This comes from figures calculated by the PA News Agency based on data collected by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
Despite the changes in Wales and Scotland, the Department of Transport in London said it had no plans to change the travel arrangements with Greece.
Greece's current infection rate is 13.7 per 100,000 people, while the UK government's threshold for its quarantine list is 20 cases per 100,000.
However, there are serious fears that these relatively small numbers believe how widespread the contagion is on Greek party islands popular with young Britons.
Rory Boland, tour guide at Which ?, criticized the government's approach to quarantining countries, claiming it hurt the travel industry and left vacationers confused.
He said: "Once again, random announcements and rumors about the quarantine have created chaos and confusion among vacationers. Many are faced with the unenviable choice between paying extortionate prices for last-minute flights home or the disruption caused by two weeks of isolation on their return.
Pictured Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said the Welsh government was "deeply concerned" about reports from passengers on the flight
“With the dust settling on what has been a disappointing summer for so many, it is clear that a reassessment of the government's approach to addressing the threat that the coronavirus poses to vacation travel will be needed.
"The travel industry will also need stronger government support to weather the difficult months ahead, while major reforms will be required to restore the confidence of vacationers who have often been left out of their pockets and no longer seek support after the pandemic can strive. " Travel plans in ruins. & # 39;
Authorities are imposing new restrictions on Zante Island amid growing fears that vacation destinations could become a new hotspot
- Local restrictions have been introduced on the islands of Zante / Zakynthos amid fears that the number of coronavirus cases will increase. These include:
- Suspension of any kind of live events and celebrations such as parties, fairs, religious ceremonies, open markets, etc.
- Ban on all shops, services and facilities in the food / catering sector from midnight to 7 a.m. the next day.
- A ban on gatherings of more than 9 people, indoors or outdoors;
- A limit of 4 people per table in a restaurant, except in cases where the group consists of family members and the limit is 6 people;
- Compulsory use of face masks in public indoor and outdoor areas.
Seven of those on Tui's flight to Cardiff on August 25 were contagious at the time of the flight and all 193 passengers were asked to self-isolate, the Welsh government said.
One traveler claimed the flight was full of "selfish covidiots" where passengers did not wear their masks properly and disregarded the rules.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams told the Welsh Government's weekly press conference that a statement would be made on Tuesday about other flights to Wales.
"The Welsh Government is deeply concerned about the reports from people on this flight about the lack of adequate measures to keep everyone safe on this flight," she said.
"My colleague Vaughan Gething, the Minister of Health, is in discussion with all relevant parties and will make a statement later today on other flights that may fly from Greece to Cardiff Airport."
On Tuesday, Public Health Wales announced another person with coronavirus died in Wales, bringing the total death toll to 1,596.
An additional 51 positive cases of Covid-19 were reported, bringing the number of cases to 18,063.
Dr. Christopher Williams, Incident Director for Covid-19 Outbreak Response at Public Health Wales, said: “All passengers are being monitored by their local Test Trace Protect teams.
“You should all self-isolate at home as they can become contagious even if they don't have symptoms. Anyone with symptoms should book a test immediately. & # 39;
Stephanie Whitfield, who was on the flight in question, claimed the "incompetent crew couldn't care less" after passengers removed their masks and mingled freely with friends and families on board.
The flight left all 193 people on board self-isolating two weeks ago and fears that Zante could be a new coronavirus hotspot.
Ms. Whitfield from Cardiff, who was on the flight with her husband, told the BBC: “This flight was a debacle. The guy next to me had his mask around his neck.
“Not only did the airline not pull him up, they gave him a free drink when he said he knew a member of the crew.
Many people took off their masks and walked up and down the hallways to talk to others.
As soon as the flight landed, a lot of people immediately took off their masks. The flight was full of selfish "covidiots" and an incompetent crew who couldn't care less. "
According to Dr. Gwen Lowe, Communicable Disease Control Advisor at Public Health Wales, there have been about 30 cases related to Zante in the last week that have been confirmed in people who have been on different flights and in different locations.
She also admitted, "These are confirmed positive cases and we expect that number to rise."
The Foreign Commonwealth Office updated its advice to Brits traveling to Zante or Zakynthos after local restrictions on fighting the virus increased.
TUI defended itself against the claims and insisted that all passengers wear masks and adhere to the Covid protocols "for the duration of their flight".
A statement said: “The health and safety of passengers is always our priority and we are concerned to hear about Ms. Whitfield's allegations.
& # 39; Our crew is trained to the highest standards and in accordance with the guidelines of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
Passengers on board a TUI flight from Zante to Cardiff have to self-isolate after seven people tested positive for coronavirus
“Before the start of the journey and via PA announcements on the flight, passengers are informed that they must wear masks at all times and are not allowed to move in the cabin. Masks can only be removed when consuming food and drinks.
"A full investigation is ongoing as these concerns were not reported in-flight or prior to today."
Tourists are now facing several restrictions on what they can do on the island, including the suspension of live events and celebrations such as parties, fairs, religious ceremonies and open markets, and a ban on all food and catering business. Services and facilities from midnight to 7 a.m. the next day.
Several Britons who have visited Greece in the past few weeks have reported cases of the virus.
Last week, 11 teenagers from Plymouth tested positive for the coronavirus, with up to 30 infected in total upon their return from Zante.
Plymouth Public Health Director Ruth Harrell said some of the teenagers spent an evening in Plymouth's bars and restaurants before becoming aware of the risk.
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