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LONDON: Tourists arriving in the UK from countries with high coronavirus infection rates are bypassing mandatory quarantine periods in airport hotels by staying in Turkey before arriving, The Times newspaper has revealed.

Travel agencies are selling “quarantine packages” to travelers from countries on Britain’s “red list,” such as India and Pakistan.

As part of the quarantine packages, travel agencies suggest that people traveling to the UK from high-risk countries should spend 10 days as tourists in Turkey before arrival.

Turkey has no quarantine requirement for most foreign tourists, and is not on Britain’s red list.

The quarantine packages are legal according to UK coronavirus restrictions but have proved controversial in Turkey, where a temporary lockdown has been imposed following a recent surge in coronavirus cases.

However, tourists are exempt from the new Turkish restrictions and can travel the country freely.

“British citizens coming to Turkey from Pakistan can wander around freely, causing the Indian variant to spread here,” said Murat Emir, a deputy in Turkey’s main opposition party.

“Turkey urgently needs to tackle this gap and implement the restrictions on India for Pakistan, as other European countries have done.”

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca warned last week that five cases of the new Indian variant had been detected in Istanbul.

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