UK’s new travel chaos as NK declares first COVID case
Britons jetting back from Spain faced chaos on Sunday (local time) after being told they would have to go into an unplanned two-week quarantine.
The British Government only made the announcement on Saturday night (local time), leaving holiday-makers scrambling to make arrangements for self-isolation to avoid massive fines.
But the British government on Sunday defended its decision to impose an immediate requirement for passengers arriving from Spain to self-isolate amid a resurgence of coronavirus in the popular holiday destination.
The new rules took hold at midnight Saturday, hours after being announced, causing uncertainty for holiday-makers and leading to criticism from travel industry leaders.
"I think it's quite poor that they did it so instantaneously," Philip Bradby, 55, told reporters after returning early to Britain from Barcelona.
But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government was required to take "swift" action.
"The data we got was on the Friday, it showed a big jump right across mainland Spain. That was then assessed yesterday afternoon and we took the decision as swiftly as we could," Raab told Sky News.
"We can't make apologies for doing so," he added.
"I understand it is disruptive for those going through this … but we must though be able to take swift, decisive action." Passengers arriving in Britain will have to self-isolate for two weeks following the surge in cases.
"The Joint Biosecurity Centre together with Public Health England have updated their coronavirus assessments of Spain based on the latest data," said a British government spokesman.
"As a result, Spain has been removed from the lists of countries from which passengers arriving in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are exempted from the need to self-isolate." Britain is advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain, but that does not apply to the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands.
Barely a month after Spain ended its months-long state of emergency, new infections have been rising.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps was caught in the ruling as he is currently in Spain for his summer break.
Labour called the decision "frankly shambolic", with shadow health Minister Jonathan Ashworth saying holiday-makers had been left "confused and distressed".
Tui, Britain's biggest tour operator, said the government should have given them "more notice of this announcement".
FIRST COVID CASE RECORDED IN NORTH KOREA
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared an emergency and a lockdown in a border town after a person suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus returned from South Korea after illegally crossing the border, state media said on Sunday.
If confirmed, it would be the first case officially acknowledged by North Korean authorities.
Kim convened an emergency politburo meeting in response to what he called a "critical situation in which the vicious virus could be said to have entered the country", the North's KCNA state news reported.
The North Korean leader convened an emergency politburo meeting to implement a "maximum emergency system and issue a top-class alert" to contain the virus, the official Korean Central News Agency said.
If confirmed, it would be the first officially recognised case of COVID-19 in North Korea, where medical infrastructure is seen as woefully inadequate to deal with any epidemic.
KCNA said a defector who had left for South Korea three years ago returned on July 19 after "illegally crossing" the heavily fortified border dividing the two countries.
It is very rare for anyone to leave the South through what is one of the world's most secure borders, replete with minefields and guard posts.
But the South Korean military said there was a "high possibility" that a defector had recently returned.
A 24-year-old man is believed to have swum back to the North after being investigated for rape allegations in the South, according to multiple media reports and defectors.
Pyongyang previously insisted that not a single case of the coronavirus had been seen in the
North despite the pandemic sweeping the globe, and the country's borders remain closed.
The patient was found in Kaesong City, which borders South Korea, and "was put under strict quarantine", as would any close contacts, KCNA said.
It was a "dangerous situation … that may lead to a deadly and destructive disaster", the agency added.
Kim was quoted as saying "the vicious virus could be said to have entered the country", and officials on Friday took the "pre-emptive measure of totally blocking Kaesong City".
Nuclear-armed North Korea closed its borders in late January as the virus spread in neighbouring China.
It imposed tough restrictions that put thousands of people into isolation, but analysts say the isolated state is unlikely to have avoided the contagion.
Earlier this month Kim warned against any "hasty" relaxation of anti-coronavirus measures, indicating the North would keep its borders closed for the foreseeable future.
More than 30,000 North Korean civilians have fled their homeland since the peninsula was divided at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
Most flee across the porous frontier with China and it is very rare for them to cross the heavily guarded inter-Korean border.
But the number of escapees has dwindled in recent months - with just 12 new arrivals from April to June compared to 320 in the same period last year - due to border closures over the virus, Seoul officials said.
VICTORIA'S DEADLIEST DAY
It comes as Victoria recorded 459 new cases of coronavirus and ten more deaths in another brutal day for the state's coronavirus crisis.
The deaths include one man who is aged in his 40s, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says.
Seven of the deaths are linked to outbreaks at aged care facilities.
Mr Andrews urged Victorians to wear a face mask in order to prevent more infections, as cases continued to rise.
"This is not about human rights," he said. "There are 10 families that are going to be burying someone in the next few days.
"Wear a mask - it's not too much to ask."
Mr Andrews said although there was some "relative stability", the numbers needed to drastically lower before restrictions could be lifted.
"These numbers are far too high," he said on Sunday.
"I can't tell you where we will be in another three-and-a-half weeks, but what I can confirm for you … is that the data will drive the decisions."
Australian Defence Force personnel will from tomorrow begin training with Ambulance Victoria ahead of an on-road partnership to support paramedics, Mr Andrews said.
"We have some 200 off-roster paramedics and third-year students helping us with contact tracing, their skills in dealing with dynamic circumstances means they are perfectly suited to that," he said.
It comes as coronavirus cases at Victorian aged-care homes have rocketed to more than 500 as health authorities race against time to stop rising deaths and hospital admissions among vulnerable residents.
St Basil's Home for the Aged in Fawkner evacuated at least 20 residents on Saturday after the cluster, Victoria's largest at an aged-care home, swelled to 74 cases.
Originally published as UK's new travel chaos as NK declares first COVID case