As the world is facing COVID-19, a new, more infectious COVID-19 variant has been identified in the United Kingdom (UK), which has sparked travel bans by many countries. According to medical specialists: “New variant can spread more quickly” and was responsible for 60% of new infections in London.”
British Prime Minister was scheduled to chair an emergency meeting on Monday after a new COVID-19 variant led to border shutdown.
Taking the new variant of coronavirus seriously, British travelers are being cut off from much of Europe and other parts of the world as countries imposed restrictions on travel from the UK.
After the identification, France announced a temporary ban on all travel and accompanied freight on Sunday night. It is a potential disaster for UK exporters who rely on trade with Europe.
It is to be noted that the timing of the restrictions, just days before Christmas and the end of the Brexit transition period, raised concerns about food and medicine shortages in the UK at a critical time.
Followed by France, dozens of countries across Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas announced travel bans for the UK. Greece and Spain have imposed restrictions that require travelers arriving from Britain to undergo coronavirus tests or quarantine.
Canada, too announced a travel ban from midnight Sunday for at least 72 hours. In a Tweet Sunday night, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the decision was made to keep Canadians across the country safe.
This afternoon, I convened a meeting with the Incident Response Group. We focused on the new variant of COVID-19 identified in the UK, and we have decided to implement new border restrictions in order to keep you – and people right across the country – safe.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) December 21, 2020
South America, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia have all suspended direct flights to and from the UK, and El Salvador has banned anyone entering the country from Britain.
Hong Kong became the first place in Asia to restrict British travelers on Monday, halting all passenger flights from the UK from Tuesday and banning all passengers who stayed in the UK for more than two hours in the past 14 days from arriving in the city.
In the Middle East, flights from the UK were barred in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel.
And across Europe, countries have closed their borders to travelers from the UK, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, Luxembourg, the Republic of Ireland, Estonia, and the Czech Republic.
The Indian government too banned flights from the UK till December 31. The ban will start from Wednesday, and all passengers arriving from the UK before then will be tested on arrival at airports.
“Considering the prevailing situation in UK, the government of India has decided that all flights originating from UK to India to be suspended till December 31,” said the Aviation Ministry after a joint monitoring group on COVID-19 met this morning to discuss the mutant coronavirus that has spread rapidly in the UK, sending cases rocketing within days.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the new variant had a huge number of genetic changes. The development “calls for enhanced epidemiological surveillance, enhanced containment” and other measures to effectively tackle the challenge.
What is the new variant of the COVID-19 virus identified in the United Kingdom?
Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, warned on Saturday that the new UK variant of COVID “can spread more quickly” and was responsible for 60% of new infections in London, which have nearly doubled in the last week alone.
Whitty asserted that there was presently no evidence to suggest that the new variant is more deadly or would neutralize the effectiveness of the newly approved vaccines.
However, a more easily spread virus could result in more cases, which could lead to more hospitalizations and potentially more deaths. He claimed that even with a vaccine, this could make controlling the virus’s spread far less manageable.