Changes to traveling to England from a Brazil have been delayed by three days (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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A government minister has said the UK has acted "decisively" on covid strains – despite a recent delay in banning travel from Brazil.

The UK government was expected to ban travel from much of South America today – but has bizarrely pushed back a long-awaited requirement to get a negative Covid test by three more days.

Anyone arriving in England was going to have to get a coronavirus test, and ensure the result is negative, from 4am tomorrow.

But late last night, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the requirement would only kick in at 4am on Monday.

It comes after safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins said the UK had acted "decisively" in the past over new variants of coronavirus found in Denmark and South Africa.

A gravedigger works at the Parque Taruma cemetery amid the coronavirus outbreak in Manaus, Brazil
(Image: REUTERS)

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When asked on Sky News why the air corridor between Brazil and parts of South America to the UK had not been closed off, she said: "Of course, people flying into the UK, whether from South America or elsewhere are required to have a 10-day quarantine period when they land in the UK. That is mandatory.

"In terms of the decision on travel measures, it takes a little bit of time.

"What we need to ensure is that when we make these very, very important decisions that have a huge impact on people's personal lives, but also businesses, we have got to have a little bit of time to let that bed in.

"The Prime Minister was clear that measure will be taken, we have acted decisively in the past with both the Denmark and South African variants, so I wouldn't want to speculate further at this stage."

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the new travel requirement would only kick in at 4am on Monday
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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Commons Home Affairs Committee chair Yvette Cooper said the delay was “truly shocking”.

She tweeted: “Questioned PM repeatedly today on why border testing/quarantine is weaker than other countries.

“Repeatedly he said Govt is bringing in new testing (months later than elsewhere but due Fri).

“But now it’s not. More delays. As they haven’t published guidance in time.”

Boris Johnson said he was concerned about the new variant
(Image: PRU/AFP via Getty Images)

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It comes despite fears over another new variant of coronavirus believed to have originated in Brazil, along with one originating in South Africa.

Boris Johnson yesterday said he was “concerned” about the strain, already detected in Japan. And Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance said “we don’t know” if it will have any resistance to a vaccine.

The UK government is expected to announce a full travel ban from several South American nations later today.

This would be separate to the delayed requirement for inbound travellers to have a negative Covid test result.

The Times reported the ban will likely include Argentina, Uruguay, Peru and Colombia. A No 10 source told the Mirror: “It’s moving very quickly in that direction.”