Pre-flight Covid-19 testing for passengers travelling to the UK will “shortly” be introduced, according to the Government.
Health minister Lord Bethell said international travel has been a source of infection for the UK in the first and second wave of the pandemic, noting it “continues to be”.
He told the Lords: “The prospect of the South African variant, that is even more transmissible than the Kent variant, puts a spotlight on this threat to infection.
“That is why we are working on processing new measures that will be introduced shortly – to have pre-flight testing for travellers to Britain, and we look forward to those being announced shortly.”
Professor Robert Winston was among several peers to earlier raise concerns over the lack of checks for international travellers.
The Labour peer warned: “The more people who are infected in a population, the more likelihood there is of mutation which may be deleterious to human health.
“The more treatment that is given to people, the more likely there is to be a mutation as the virus fights against that treatment.
“The more people that come from outside your own environment, for example outside the country, the more likely they are to bring such mutations in with them.”
Lord Winston said one of the “clear issues” is international travel, adding there are hundreds of thousands of people arriving on a weekly basis.
He went on: “We’re not properly tracking them, we’re not properly tracing them and some of them are being asked if they might voluntarily like to be tested and then they have to pay for it.
“This is clearly nonsense.
“There should be a much stricter control on people coming into this country, as in fact is happening in other countries.”