A scientist was warned that cases of the new variant Omicron in the UK will soon be higher than in some African countries which are on the red list.
Professor Tim Spector warned that cases of Covid mutations are doubling every two days which is on course to overtake some 11 African nations.
Travellers entering the UK, as of Tuesday must now quarantine to try and stymie the community transmission.
All travellers must now take a pre-departure test before arriving in the UK and should they test positive then they will not be allowed to travel to England.
Speaking to the BBC, Professor Spector, of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said there was “very little point” in enforcing travel restrictions should case numbers exceeded those in red list nations.
He said, “The official estimates are about 350-odd Omicron cases, and because the current testing is missing a lot of those, it’s probably at least 1,000 to 2,000 I would guess at the moment.
“And we are expecting this to be doubling about every two days at the moment, so if you do your maths – assume it’s 1,000 at the moment, and you think it’s going to be doubling every two days, you can see that those numbers are going to be pretty (high) certainly in about 10 days’ time.
“By that time, we’ll probably have more cases than they will in some of those African countries.
“So I think these travel restrictions do perhaps have their place initially, when cases are really low here and really high in the other country, but when we reach that equilibrium, there’s very little point in having them in my opinion.”
Dr Jeffrey Barrett, director of the Covid-19 genomics initiative at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said he thought Omicron would take over from Delta in the UK “within a matter of weeks.” as the dominant variant of Covid.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, “I think we can now say that this variant is spreading faster in the UK than the Delta variant at the same time, and that’s something that I think was unclear until very recently.
“The fact that so far we have seen not very many severe cases of Omicron, maybe because it is infecting these individuals with some amount of immunity and that’s good news that they aren’t having tonnes of severe disease, but I think it is too soon to assume that fundamentally Omicron is more mild than say Delta.”
Professor Spector added, “If early reports pan out – we don’t absolutely know this, we’ve got hardly any data in this country where we have high rates of vaccination – but if we assume that it is not more severe and possibly milder than Delta, but it’s much more transmissible.
“So it means that perhaps twice as many people are going to pass it on from when someone gets it in a crowd.
“That’s going to be good news for the individual because we have less cases going to hospital, and partly this is due to our high vaccination rates.
“But it also means that eventually you will get more deaths and problems, because nearly everyone is infected or reinfected.
“And so, this means that for the country as a whole, it could be worse news but better for the individual.
“So it’s absolutely no reason for complacency.”