Nearly a third of people arriving into the UK as the Delta variant took off may have broken quarantine rules, we learnt this week.

Government was not able to say how many cases passed to investigators were found to have broken the rules or could not be traced. Politicians feel that their worse fears about lax border policies have been confirmed.

These reports come as winter Covid-19 plans are being drawn up, with proposals to get rid of some coronavirus powers such as closing schools and businesses. Plans are expected to emphasise the importance of vaccines in allowing a return to nearly normal life and to set up plans for a third dose as a booster, which would be offered to older people first.

Chief Medical Officers are recommending vaccinating healthy 12-15 year olds with Pfizer  BioNTech and there may be measures to make it easier to travel abroad.

Earlier this year, the London Government introduced new rules for people arriving from abroad in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus and to stop new variants. There were subsequently substantially adopted by the devolved administrations. People arriving from high-risk countries - deemed ‘red list’ – had to quarantine in a hotel. Those coming from ‘amber list’- or medium risk areas – were required to self-isolate for ten days and provide evidence of negative Covid tests.

From March 17 to May 31 more than a million people arrived in England and the North from amber list countries.

Those who developed the Pfizer vaccine see the pandemic as a baptism of fire with mutations of the virus only in their infancy. But, having infected 224 million worldwide and killed 4.6 million of them, we have only seen the first generation of mutations.
At present Covid can only infect us by entering via ACE2 receptors in the nose, mouth and lungs but changes might enable it to enter via other receptor sites which would overcome our current vaccine responses.

1,590 cases and sadly 7 deaths have been reported in the North over the past week. A total of 2,496,461 vaccines have been administered. Over the past seven days case numbers have decreased from 10,477 to 9,991.

220,071 have been found to have the disease since testing began. Belfast has the highest number of individuals testing positive. The highest percentage of individuals testing positive in the past week were between 10 and 14 years. The second highest percentage of individuals testing positive are those between 5 and 9 years and vaccinations will start next Tuesday for 12-15 year olds.

Deaths are decreasing from 56 last week to 40 this week with a total to date of 2,468.
Governments are publishing their winter plans. Some might say that a ‘winter of discontent’ may lie ahead.