UK govt may want all travellers to pay for quarantine: Report

LONDON: Britain's government may be looking at requiring all incoming travellers to isolate in hotels and pay for it themselves, The Sunday Times reported.

Currently, all arrivals will have to self-quarantine and show negative tests for Covid-19 from noon today (Singapore time), after travel corridors from countries with lower caseloads were scrapped.

Britain reported its lowest daily infections since the start of the year on Saturday, adding to signs that a national lockdown in effect since Jan 5, is slowing the spread of a more infectious variant of the disease.

Some 41,346 people tested positive, down from 55,761 on Friday and the lowest daily total since Dec 27.

But it reported its third highest daily death toll from the virus on Saturday, with 1,295 dying, taking the total number of fatalities to 88,590.

Meanwhile, Britain hopes to meet its target for rolling out Covid-19 vaccines and be able to ease lockdown restrictions by March, Foreign Minister Dominic Raab saidyesterday.

"What we want to do is get out of this national lockdown as soon as possible," Mr Raab told Sky News television.

"By early spring, hopefully by March, we will be in a position to make those decisions. I think it is right to say we won't do it all in one big bang. As we phase out the national lockdown, I think we will end up phasing through a tiered approach."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a target of vaccinating the elderly, including care home residents, the clinically vulnerable and front-line workers - or roughly more than 13 million people - by mid-February.

In Europe, around 10,000 people rallied in Austrian capital Vienna on Saturday to protest coronavirus restrictions, calling on the government to resign, Austrian police said.

"The numbers of deaths we are being given, that is rubbish. I don't want to end up like China where you don't have any right to do anything," one woman told AFP.

Despite the protest, Austria extended its third lockdown with the goal to start easing restrictions only from next month. Non-essential shops, concert halls and theatres, sports centres and schools all closed. The country of 8.9 million people has nearly 390,000 Covid-19 cases and almost 7,000 deaths. - REUTERS, AFP