Covid: Hundreds of British tourists 'flee Swiss ski resort' despite being told to self-isolate

Hundreds of British tourists, who were meant to be self-isolating at a Swiss ski resort, have fled despite being told to quarantine as fears mount abroad over the new Covid-19 variant.

At least 200 Britons, which make up around half of those told to isolate at the Verbier resort, are said to have left during the night in a bid to escape the quarantine.

It comes as Switzerland banned Britons from entering the country following the emergence in the UK of a new strain of coronavirus thought to be highly infectious.

However, those who arrived before the ban, or after 14 December, were told to self-isolate for 10 days in order to limit the spread of the new coronavirus strain in the country.   

About 200 out of 420 British holidaymakers "suddenly disappeared" overnight between Saturday and Sunday, according to local media reports.

Hoteliers reportedly noticed guests had secretly left when calls to rooms went unanswered and meals left outside doors were untouched.

"Many of them stayed in quarantine for a day before they left unnoticed under the cover of darkness, communications officer Jean-Marc Sandoz told local paper SonntagsZeitung.

He said it is not clear where the majority of the Brits have gone as there are no flights between UK and Switzerland. But he added that some had travelled to the UK/France border.

Switzerland followed in the footsteps of Tier 4 restrictions in the UK as it announced the closure of restaurants, bars, cultural venues and sports facilities, following a substantial rise in Covid-19 cases.

The closures will last until 22 January because "hospitals and healthcare workers have been under extreme pressure for weeks and the festive period increases the risk of an even more rapid rise in cases", the government said in a statement.

No cases of the new variant have been discovered in Verbier but they have been detected elsewhere in the country.

The Swiss health department confirmed two cases of the variant, which have been traced back to the UK, have been found as well as another two cases of the variant that is linked to South Africa.