No foreign holidays until at least Autumn as South African variant threatens Covid jab rollout – Daily Record

A leading UK scientist has warned that foreign holidays could be off the cards until at least autumn amid fears over new coronavirus variants.

Professor Neil Ferguson said that it may take a number of months before we see something that resembles normality.

There is presently concerns over a mutant strain of the virus first detected in South Africa – which is said to account for around 10% of cases in Europe.

Ferguson, who was nicknamed ‘Professor Lockdown’, warned that the variant could potentially stall the UK’s vaccine rollout programme if it is allowed to circulate in the country.

Professor Neil Ferguson said that the South Africa variant could disrupt the vaccine rollout if it is allowed to circulate in the UK
(Image: PA)

The latest data released by the UK Government reveals that 22 confirmed cases of the so-called South Africa variant have so far been discovered in Scotland.

There has also been a well-documented surge in the number of Covid cases across Europe, with some countries tightening lockdown restrictions in recent days.

But Professor Ferguson said that plans to exit from lockdown should not be impacted by rise in cases elsewhere on the continent.

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He told BBC Breakfast : “Depending on what happens in other areas of the world, travel may be one of the later things to be relaxed.

“But I think we…whilst not everything will be back to normal by the summer, certainly by the autumn, it will feel a lot more normal.”

More than 2.2m Scots have so far received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the Scottish Government.

It is hoped that the top nine most vulnerable groups of people in the country will have been given an invite to receive the jab by mid-April.

International travel is currently banned under lockdown restrictions in Scotland
(Image: Daily Record)

Government and health officials in Scotland have remained cautious about the reopening of international travel amid the pandemic.

Nicola Sturgeon previously warned Scots holidaymakers that overseas travel is unlikely to be possible before June at the earliest.

Speaking at a coronavirus press briefing last week, the First Minister said: “All of us want to have every aspect of life back to normal, for the benefits of individual freedoms as well as the importance of international travel to our economy.

“But we know two things right now. While we see lots of signs here, domestically in Scotland and across the UK, the picture is not as rosy in many other parts of Europe including some parts of Europe, where we are starting to some increase in the virus.

“We have to be cautious. This is a global pandemic, and we have to be cautious about the global pandemic as we consider our connectedness.”