Travel concierge service charges members £40k for private Covid jab

An elite members-only travel concierge service is charging the world’s mega-rich £40,000 to fly them out to Dubai and India for a Covid vaccine.

The Knightsbridge Circle is offering its £25,000-a-year members first-class travel to countries who administer the sought-after vaccines privately.

The club has been offering both the Pfizer and the Sinopharm jabs to over-65s only in the UAE, its founder Stuart McNeill has revealed. 

The enormous £40,000 fee covers membership, first-class flights on Emirates and accommodation in a sea-view apartment as well as the jab.   

As of this week, the Oxford Astrazenica vaccine can be offered in India for the same £40,000 fee, Mr McNeill said.

For this trip, clients are offered a villa with a pool, a personal chef and household staff – and several are whisked away on private jets.

Many opt to stay in the country they flew to for the 21-day wait between vaccinations – but some choose to fly somewhere else for a holiday.   

Mr McNeill said his wealthy clients have business meetings in Dubai meaning they can get around Britain’s ban on non-essential foreign travel during lockdown. 

On another day of coronavirus carnage:

  • Travellers from the whole of South America ‘will be banned from entering UK from today’;
  • Sadiq Khan has complained that London is not getting its ‘fair share’ of vaccine after a local breakdown of where the doses have been administered was released; 
  • Ministers faced accusations of failing to protect the UK today after a new Covid super-strain emerged; 
  • A requirement for UK arrivals to have tested negative within the previous 72 hours, announced last week and due to come into force tomorrow, has been delayed until Monday;
  • A total of 4.46million people were waiting to start hospital treatment in England at the end of November, the highest since records began; 
  • Boots and Superdrug have started dishing out coronavirus vaccines this morning after No10 finally turned to the high street to deliver its lockdown-ending promise of immunising almost 14million people by mid-February. 
The Knightsbridge Circle - an elite members-only travel concierge service (its founder Stuart McNeill, pictured) - is charging the world's mega-rich £40,000 to fly them out to Dubai and India for a Covid vaccine

The Knightsbridge Circle has been offering both the Pfizer and the Sinopharm jabs in the UAE, its founder Stuart McNeill (pictured) has revealed

An elite members-only travel concierge service is charging the world’s mega-rich £40,000 to fly them out to Dubai and India for a Covid vaccine. The Knightsbridge Circle has been offering both the Pfizer and the Sinopharm jabs in the UAE, its founder Stuart McNeill (pictured) has revealed

Mr McNeill (pictured) said his wealthy clients have business meetings in Dubai meaning they can get around Britain's ban on non-essential foreign travel during lockdown

As of this week, the Oxford Astrazenica vaccine can be offered in India for the same fee, Mr McNeill (pictured) said

Mr McNeill (pictured) said his wealthy clients have business meetings in Dubai meaning they can get around Britain’s ban on non-essential foreign travel during lockdown. As of this week, the Oxford Astrazenica vaccine can be offered in India for the same fee, Mr McNeill said

The enormous £40,000 fee covers membership (the description of its membership on the club's website, pictured), first-class flights on Emirates and accommodation in a sea-view apartment as well as the jab

The enormous £40,000 fee covers membership (the description of its membership on the club’s website, pictured), first-class flights on Emirates and accommodation in a sea-view apartment as well as the jab

What is Knightsbridge Circle and who is its founder Stuart McNeill?

Members-only travel concierge service Knightsbridge Circle was founded by Stuart McNeill in 2012.

According to its website, the club offers ‘exceptional personal service at an unsurpassed level’ and gives members ‘unparalleled access to the very best of everything that life has to offer’.

It charges its hand-picked members £25,000-a-year to join and acts as a luxury travel agent, sourcing top accommodation, upgrades and ‘unique and unforgettable experiences’. It also helps members with house hunting, founder Mr McNeill said.

The club meets monthly to review applications and decide who is fit to join, but members are capped at just 50.

Each ‘personal manager’ is responsible for looking after just five members, to ensure its exclusivity. 

Its founder Mr McNeill first entered the luxury industry when he joined American Express Centurion – known as the ‘black card’.

He rolled out the card’s Elite tier – offered only to those spending the most money.

He went on to set up Knightsbridge Circle, which he dubbed ‘the most exclusive travel and lifestyle Management members club’.

In an interview, he cited some of his most-bizarre requests as ‘the renewal of wedding vows by the Pope himself’ and ‘the privatisation of a temple in Bangkok and a ritual conducted by monks’.

 He said the club will help its members with anything as long as its ‘legal and morally right’.

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As of 4am on Tuesday, all arrivals coming from Dubai have to self-isolate for ten days, even if they test negative for Covid.

But people can be except from quarantining if they fall into various job categories. 

These include business directors who bring jobs and investment to the UK. 

People falling into this category do not need to isolate if they are ‘carrying out the specific activities that are likely to bring significant economic benefit’.   

Mr McNeill told The Daily Telegraph: ‘It’s very exciting to say that we can offer the vaccine now. We’ve been proactive in offering it to all of our existing members.’ 

Knightsbridge Circle was founded by Mr McNeill in 2012.

According to its website, the club offers ‘exceptional personal service at an unsurpassed level’ and gives members ‘unparalleled access to the very best of everything that life has to offer’.

It charges its hand-picked members £25,000-a-year to join and acts as a luxury travel agent, sourcing top accommodation, upgrades and ‘unique and unforgettable experiences’.
Its founder Mr McNeill first entered the luxury industry when he joined American Express Centurion – known as the ‘black card’.
He rolled out the card’s Elite tier – offered only to those spending the most money – before moving into luxury travel and lifestyle.

When asked about the moral implications of administering the jab privately, Mr McNeill said he wouldn’t offer it to anyone under 65 – and many of his clients are members’ parents or grandparents. 

He added: ‘I feel that everybody who has access to private [healthcare should be able to be vaccinated] – as long as we offer it to the right people.’ 

While the world’s richest are able to jet off for a private jab, vaccine shortages mean doses are having to be spread out in the UK. 

The Government has opted to extend the gap between the first and second jab to 12 weeks to allow it to be administered to a greater number of people.

Ministers have set a target of vaccinating the 13 million people in the top four priority groups – which includes the over-80s – by mid-February.  

Knightsbridge Circle was founded by Mr McNeill (pictured) in 2012

Knightsbridge Circle was founded by Mr McNeill (pictured) in 2012 

Care home residents, vulnerable people and frontline health workers are also first in line for jabs of the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines. 

Yesterday, it was revealed GPs leading Britain’s great vaccination drive have been forced to pause inoculations to allow other parts of the country to catch up.  

Practices that have already vaccinated every patient over the age of 80 and are now looking to dish the jabs out to the over-70s have had their deliveries cancelled by NHS leaders, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Government sources claim ministers are deliberately trying to spread out limited supplies in case the immunisation programme is accused of being a postcode lottery.

Sean Meade (pictured) told MailOnline that he had a Covid test on Monday in Durban and carried a copy of his negative result expecting that he would be asked for it when arriving at Heathrow via Paris - but nobody bothered

Sean Meade (pictured) told MailOnline that he had a Covid test on Monday in Durban and carried a copy of his negative result expecting that he would be asked for it when arriving at Heathrow via Paris – but nobody bothered

Dubai tourists needing negative result 72 hours before flying to UK can get PCR swab for £50

By Mark Duell for MailOnline 

People in Dubai trying to get a coronavirus test must only pay up to £50, it emerged today after the United Arab Emirates was removed from the UK’s travel corridor list.

Those in the UAE can obtain private polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests at drive-thru centres or be visited at homes or offices, with results in as little as eight hours.

This is much cheaper than the cost in Britain, especially in London where tests can be up to £300 each with some taking up to three days for the results to come back.

Other private Covid-19 PCR tests from Government-approved providers in the UK can be cheaper at around £100 each but still have a results turnaround of 24 hours. 

From 8am on Saturday, tourists travelling from or through Britain and arriving in Dubai must have a negative PCR test taken less than 96 hours before departure.

Before then, passengers arriving from the UK can take a PCR test on arrival at Dubai International Airport – but this will no longer meet requirements from Saturday.

For those travelling in the opposite direction towards Britain, from 4am this Friday, all Britons as well as foreign travellers must have a negative test within 72 hours of boarding a UK-bound plane or be turned away by their carrier.

Authorities in Dubai favour PCR testing, with other certificates such as antibody tests and home testing kits not accepted by officials in the UAE upon arrival.

Among the testing sites in the UAE is Dubai Festival City where Al-Futtaim HealthHub operates drive-through tests for £27 (AED 135) which do not need to be pre-booked.

People can get their results in eight to ten hours at the location with a fast-track test for £30 (AED 150) at the same centre which is open every day from 7am to 6pm.

There are a number of priority categories of people eligible for free testing, including UAE nationals, residents aged over 50 and those suffering from chronic disease. 

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Dr John Bedson, a GP in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, claimed today his practice had not yet been able to vaccinate a single patient, despite surgeries in more affluent areas of North Staffordshire already administering ‘thousands’ of doses.

Matt Hancock hinted yesterday that a lack of supply was behind the decision to delay jabs despite the vaccination scheme desperately needing to get up to speed to reach its goal of jabbing 13million Brits by mid-February. 

Quizzed over reports that GPs are having to pause vaccinations to let other practices catch up, the Health Secretary told BBC Radio’s 4 Today Programme on Wednesday: ‘The rate-limiting step on the rollout is the supply of the vaccine itself. 

‘We are now managing to get that supply more than we have done before and it will increase over the next few weeks. We have the capacity to get that vaccine out. The challenge is that we need to get the vaccine in.

‘What I know is that the supply will increase over the next few weeks and that means the very rapid rate that we are going at at the moment will continue to accelerate over the next couple of weeks.’ 

Last week, a London property investment firm was forced to apologise after its ‘appalling’ bid to skip the coronavirus vaccine queue by offering doctors £5,000 for each jab given to its staff.

Doctors across Britain are said to have been offered up to £100,000 to vaccinate the workforce of The Hacking Trust – a luxury London property firm – amid fears of an emerging black market for the jabs.

The company sent an email to NHS surgeries offering a ‘reward’ for vaccinating its ‘frontline staff’, The Daily Telegraph reported.

GPs were told by the company that it would pay £5,000 for every jab administered to its 20-person workforce. ‘This can be paid either as a charitable donation or to the staff member directly,’ the email to the surgeries said.

It has since released an apology, explaining its ‘good intentions’ had been ‘misinterpreted’. 

The Government vowed in November that private companies would not be allowed to purchase doses of the vaccination before everyone in the country had been offered it for free under the NHS.

Covid-19 vaccines are owned by the UK Government licensed by Public Health England, and are not available for private sales.

But the attempt from The Hacking Trust to purchase vaccines will add to concerns over a black market for Covid jabs, with companies willing to spend thousands of pounds on single doses to get their hands on the vital jabs for their staff. 

In an email seen by paper, the firm introduced itself as a ‘private medical company who is looking to vaccinate their front-line staff as soon as possible’.

On its website, the company describes itself as ‘specialists in purchasing residential and commercial properties,’ and a ‘market leader in its sector and acts as principal for its own investment. 

‘Our skill is structuring deals with expert legal and financial backing enabling us to get things done professionally and efficiently,’ the company’s website claims.

Boris Johnson's Government and leaving the UK at 'serious risk' today as new rules requiring arrivals to have tested negative for coronavirus were delayed

Boris Johnson’s Government and leaving the UK at ‘serious risk’ today as new rules requiring arrivals to have tested negative for coronavirus were delayed

The email, with the subject line ‘Unused vaccine reward.’ said the company required ‘approx 20 vaccinations and we understand you are operating a Covid-19 vaccination centre. 

Patrick Vallance warns new Brazilian strain COULD be more resistant to our vaccines as ministers meet TODAY to consider banning all travellers from South America 

Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser to the UK Government, said he couldn't rule out the idea that the Brazilian variant might have evolved to make vaccines less effective

Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser to the UK Government, said he couldn’t rule out the idea that the Brazilian variant might have evolved to make vaccines less effective

Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, has said it is possible that the Brazilian Covid variant could make vaccines less effective.

The Government’s top scientist said he thinks it is unlikely the mutated strain of the virus will have evolved to get past the immune system but ‘we don’t know for sure’.

No10 looks set to finally ban flights from Brazil and potentially the whole of South America today, days after scientists sounded the alarm about the mutation.

This could include other countries such as Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia and also apply to travellers arriving indirectly from Europe or the US who have been in South America within the last 10 days. This would mirror beefed-up restrictions brought in for South Africa due to its mutant Covid strain.

The Prime Minister yesterday admitted officials were ‘concerned’ about the variant and claimed the Government was ‘taking steps’ to ensure it doesn’t spread in Britain.

Brazil has already banned travellers from the UK, starting on December 25, because of the variant that emerged here. Airlines appear to have taken matters into their own hands, with all five flights scheduled between Brazil and Heathrow cancelled, and none due from other UK airports.

Public Health England (PHE) said it hasn’t picked up any cases of the variant yet, but wouldn’t rule out its already being in Britain. One expert told MailOnline it is ‘entirely possible’ it has spread here already but likely not in large numbers.

Experts and politicians have raised fears that the Kent and South African mutations — which are very similar to the Brazilian strain — could make vaccines less effective. Sir Patrick last night revealed SAGE doesn’t know whether or not jabs will work against the variant.

But top scientists studying the constantly mutating SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, insist jabs currently being rolled-out are ‘still likely to be effective’.

Pfizer has already tested its own vaccine against the variants that emerged in Kent and South Africa and said that the jab appeared to work just as well, despite the mutations.

The mutated variant of coronavirus was discovered in Japan last week in four people who had arrived on a flight from Brazil. It was first detected in Brazil — where cases are spiralling rapidly — in October.  

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‘We have been informed that many appointments are not kept and some do not attend at all.

‘On this basis we would like to be informed as soon as possible of any “no shows” or cancellations on any given day which would result in unnecessary wastage of the vaccination.’

The email continued, saying that The Hacking Trust would donate £5,000 to ‘the individual’, either ‘as a charitable donation or to the staff member directly.’ 

‘We are able to attend within a few hours following a telephone call email response. I look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency to discuss,’ it signed off.

The Hacking Trust, contacted for comment by the MailOnline, said: ‘The Hacking Health Trust has offered in open correspondence to some GP’s charitable donations to staff or surgeries in this difficult time for any vaccines which were unused. 

‘We had heard that some vaccines were being unused due to missed appointments. We would apologise that our good intentions have been misinterpreted.’ 

The UK yesterday saw its deadliest day since the Covid pandemic began with another 1,564 victims.

Department of Health figures show the daily laboratory-confirmed death toll has risen 50 per cent week-on-week, with data suggesting the total number of coronavirus victims — both suspected and confirmed — has now passed the 100,000 mark. 

The three deadliest days of Britain’s Covid crisis have all been recorded in 2021, with yesterday’s figure topping the 1,325 last Friday.  

And as Britain’s Covid deaths continue to soar due to a mutant Covid strain in Kent, fears are growing for a different mutated South African variant. 

Britain’s border defence against Covid was branded an ‘absolute joke’ today as MailOnline can reveal a traveller from South Africa walked out of Heathrow without any checks.

And ministers have delayed enforcing rule making people to get a negative Covid-19 test before entering Britain until Monday.

Thousands of people are still arriving in the UK every day through airports with more coming in through ports and on Eurostar trains without any requirement to prove they don’t have Covid-19.

Government Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance has also warned a new Brazillian strain could be more resistant to our vaccines. 

Sean Meade told MailOnline that he had a Covid test on Monday in Durban, South Africa, and carried a copy of his negative result expecting that he would be asked for it when arriving at Heathrow via Paris because he was coming from a country that has a dangerous variant of the virus. 

Expressing his shock after being waved through arrivals this morning he said: ‘The rest of the world seems to be taking it much more seriously than Britain. 

It’s disgraceful and dangerous that no checks are being carried on passengers arriving at Heathrow. 

‘I wasn’t even asked about my locator form, I just walked out of the airport quicker than I have ever done’.

Mr Meade, 26, who works in a care home in Canterbury said that he had spent the past six weeks in South Africa visiting family. 

He added: ‘I’ve come from a country that has a variant of the virus and where cases are high, but nobody even checked to see if I was negative. 

‘I got very confused about the rules. I actually thought that you had to show proof that you have got the all clear starting from Thursday and now I’ve just discovered that the new rule doesn’t start until Monday.’ 

The rules making arrivals test negative before flying were announced last week and had been due to come into force tomorrow, with travellers needing to have been screened within the previous 72 hours. 

However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced late last night that is being pushed back to Monday to give people ‘time to prepare’.

Ministers are signing off on barring direct flights from South America in an effort to prevent the mutant strain getting into Britain

Ministers are signing off on barring direct flights from South America in an effort to prevent the mutant strain getting into Britain

Even when testing negative before entering the UK becomes mandatory, many are concerned that the relative ease of getting a vaccine abroad could fail to deter people from international travel. 

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE BRAZIL VARIANT? 

Name: B.1.1.248 or P.1

Date: Discovered in Tokyo, Japan, in four travellers arriving from Manaus, Brazil, on January 2.

Is it in the UK? Public health officials and scientists randomly sample around 1 in 10 coronavirus cases in the UK and they have not yet reported any cases of B.1.1.248, but this doesn’t rule it out completely.

Why should we care? The variant has the same spike protein mutation as the highly transmissible versions found in Kent and South Africa – named N501Y – which makes the spike better able to bind to receptors inside the body.

It has a third, less well-studied mutation called K417T, and the ramifications of this are still being researched. 

What do the mutations do?

The N501Y mutation makes the spike protein better at binding to receptors in people’s bodies and therefore makes the virus more infectious. 

Exactly how much more infectious it is remains to be seen, but scientists estimate the similar-looking variant in the UK is around 56 per cent more transmissible than its predecessor. 

Even if the virus doesn’t appear to be more dangerous, its ability to spread faster and cause more infections will inevitably lead to a higher death rate.

Another key mutation in the variant, named E484K, is also on the spike protein and is present in the South African variant. 

E484K may be associated with an ability to evade parts of the immune system called antibodies, researchers from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro said in a scientific paper published online.

However, there are multiple immune cells and substances involved in the destruction of coronavirus when it gets into the body so this may not translate to a difference in how people get infected or recover.

Will our vaccines still protect us?

There is no reason to believe that already-developed Covid vaccines will not protect against the variant.

The main and most concerning change to this version of the virus is its N501Y mutation.

Pfizer, the company that made the first vaccine to get approval for public use in the UK, has specifically tested its jab on viruses carrying this mutation in  a lab after the variants emerged in the UK and South Africa.

They found that the vaccine worked just as well as it did on other variants and was able to ignore the change.

And, as the South African variant carries another of the major mutations on the Brazilian strain (E484K) and the Pfizer jab worked against that, too, it is likely that the new mutation would not affect vaccines. 

The immunity developed by different types of vaccine is broadly similar, so if one of them is able to work against it, the others should as well.

Professor Ravi Gupta, a microbiologist at the University of Cambridge, said: ‘Vaccines are still likely to be effective as a control measure if coverage rates are high and transmission is limited as far as possible.’

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People in Dubai trying to get a coronavirus test must only pay up to £50, it emerged yesterday after the United Arab Emirates was removed from the UK’s travel corridor list.

Those in the UAE can obtain private polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests at drive-thru centres or be visited at homes or offices, with results in as little as eight hours.

This is much cheaper than the cost in Britain, especially in London where tests can be up to £300 each with some taking up to three days for the results to come back.

Other private Covid-19 PCR tests from Government-approved providers in the UK can be cheaper at around £100 each but still have a results turnaround of 24 hours. 

From 8am on Saturday, tourists travelling from or through Britain and arriving in Dubai must have a negative PCR test taken less than 96 hours before departure.

Before then, passengers arriving from the UK can take a PCR test on arrival at Dubai International Airport – but this will no longer meet requirements from Saturday.

For those travelling in the opposite direction towards Britain, from 4am this Friday, all Britons as well as foreign travellers must have a negative test within 72 hours of boarding a UK-bound plane or be turned away by their carrier. 

Authorities in Dubai favour PCR testing, with other certificates such as antibody tests and home testing kits not accepted by officials in the UAE upon arrival.

Among the testing sites in the UAE is Dubai Festival City where Al-Futtaim HealthHub operates drive-through tests for £27 (AED 135) which do not need to be pre-booked.

People can get their results in eight to ten hours at the location with a fast-track test for £30 (AED 150) at the same centre which is open every day from 7am to 6pm.

There are a number of priority categories of people eligible for free testing, including UAE nationals, residents aged over 50 and those suffering from chronic disease.

Emirates Airlines has medical partnerships in Dubai to provide passengers with tests, which cost up to £50 (AED 250) for those in homes or offices with a 48-hour result.

However, passengers going to clinics for their test via the airline can get them done for as little as £26 (AED 130) per person with a 24-hour turnaround.

People from England arriving in Dubai can use any private clinic or laboratory in the UK for a PCR test but this has to be approved by Public Health England.

Children under the age of 12 and passengers who have a moderate or severe disability are exempt from the testing requirements for entry into Dubai.

Today, another 3,362 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the UAE, raising the total number of infections to 239,587. Of these, 213,149 people have recovered.

But six more patients died of complications related to the virus, raising the death toll to 723. The number of active cases in the UAE has passed 25,000 for the first time. 

Government Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance has also warned a new Brazillian strain could be more resistant to our vaccines.

Mr Shapps announced today that the UK would ban all travellers from South America, Panama and Cape Verde as well as Portugal amid fears over the Brazillian strain.

The Transport Secretary said he was taking ‘urgent’ action in an effort to prevent the mutant version getting into Britain.

The measures are even wider than had been expected – although British and Irish nationals will not be subject to the total block. 

He tweeted: ‘I’ve taken the urgent decision to BAN ARRIVALS from ARGENTINA, BRAZIL, BOLIVIA, CAPE VERDE, CHILE, COLOMBIA, ECUADOR, FRENCH GUIANA, GUYANA, PANAMA, PARAGUAY, PERU, SURINAME, URUGUAY AND VENEZUELA – from TOMORROW, 15 JAN at 4AM following evidence of a new variant in Brazil.’ 

He added: ‘Travel from PORTUGAL to the UK will also be suspended given its strong travel links with Brazil – acting as another way to reduce the risk of importing infections. 

Even when testing negative before entering the UK becomes mandatory, many are concerned that the relative ease of getting a vaccine abroad could fail to deter people from international travel. Emiratis wear face masks as they shop at the Dubai grand market on Wednesday of last week

Even when testing negative before entering the UK becomes mandatory, many are concerned that the relative ease of getting a vaccine abroad could fail to deter people from international travel. Emiratis wear face masks as they shop at the Dubai grand market on Wednesday of last week

People wear face masks on a boat at the Ras El-Khor wildlife sanctuary in Dubai last week

People wear face masks on a boat at the Ras El-Khor wildlife sanctuary in Dubai last week

‘However, there is an exemption for hauliers travelling from Portugal (only), to allow transport of essential goods.’ 

Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, has said it is possible that the Brazilian Covid variant could make vaccines less effective.

He said he thinks it is unlikely the mutated strain of the virus will have evolved to get past the immune system but ‘we don’t know for sure’. 

The curbs, confirmed by the Covid O Cabinet sub-committee, mirror beefed-up rules brought in for South Africa due to its mutant Covid strain. 

Boris Johnson admitted yesterday that officials were ‘concerned’ about the variant and claimed the Government was ‘taking steps’ to ensure it doesn’t spread in Britain. 

Brazil has already banned travellers from the UK, starting on December 25, because of the variant that emerged here. Airlines appear to have taken matters into their own hands, with all five flights scheduled between Brazil and Heathrow cancelled, and none due from other UK airports.

Public Health England (PHE) said it hasn’t picked up any cases of the variant yet, but wouldn’t rule out its already being in Britain. 

One expert told MailOnline it is ‘entirely possible’ it has spread here already but likely not in large numbers. 

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