A Tory minister has denied drastic plans to test every Brit returning from Spain for coronavirus.
The Mirror understands Department of Health officials considered the idea of testing every single person who returned from Spain after July 23.
It was raised amid fears some Brits coming home from their holidays – who must enter 14 days’ quarantine as of July 26 – have already carried Covid-19 back with them.
But sources in Downing Street and the Department for Transport today played down the prospect.
A No10 source said they were not expecting an announcement on blanket testing for returnees.
Another Whitehall source suggested the idea may have been examined as an “advisory” – telling tourists “it’d be sensible” to get tested. But local government minister Simon Clarke today suggested testing everyone wouldn’t work.
Asked if anyone who’d been in Spain should get a Covid-19 test, he told the BBC: “No, we’re not advising that.
“Certainly if you’ve been in Spain and then you show any symptoms, then we would certainly say you should.”
He added: “A negative test today doesn’t necessary mean you won’t come down with the virus later.
“Because the incubation period can take several days. That’s precisely why we advocate this two-week [quarantine].”
He went on: “If it came through on day 13 and you’d had a negative test on day 8, that’s no good to anybody.”
The Telegraph reported ministers had considered testing all Brits who returned from Spain since July 23.
It’s understood the idea has been looked at by the Department of Health, but not come to any firm conclusion.
Two weeks’ quarantine was reimposed on all those arriving in the UK from Spain with just a few hours’ notice on Saturday night.
Foreign Office advice now also advises against “non-essential travel” to the whole of Spain – even the Balearic islands where case numbers are low.
According to the Telegraph, at least 10 Britons have already tested positive for coronavirus after returning from Spain.
Mr Clarke could not confirm the figures but said the possibility was “entirely plausible”.
In separate plans, people arriving in the UK from Spain could have to quarantine for 10 days rather than a fortnight.
Under plans being examined by ministers, people returning from high-risk countries could be tested for coronavirus eight days after returning.
If the test came back negative, they would be allowed to stop isolating.
A Whitehall source told the Mirror the idea is “being canvassed” and “on the table” but warned: “Like a lot of these things it’s whether or not it’s actually practical.
“These things sound like good ideas but you need to know if they’ll actually work.”
Mr Clarke refused to rule out the move, but said guidance was not changing for now.
He told Sky News: “The situation remains that the government’s advice is that you must quarantine for 14 days. I wouldn’t want to blur that message.”