New Covid strain makes UK a global pariah amid travel bans

LONDON — A extremely contagious new variant of the coronavirus is inflicting international locations in Europe and elsewhere to dam travel from Britain.

The U.Okay. final week warned of a new coronavirus variant that’s considered as much as 70% extra transmissible than the unique strain of the illness. According to the World Health Organization, the brand new variant has thus far been recognized in Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia.

News of the strain pressured the British authorities to backtrack on plans to let households combine over Christmas, locking down London and different areas in southern England the place infections by the Covid mutation are closely concentrated.

Freight autos line up previous to boarding a practice to France by way of the Channel Tunnel, amid the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) outbreak, in Folkestone, Britain, December 20, 2020.Peter Nicholls | Reuters

Over the weekend, a number of international locations introduced plans to close their borders to Britain. In Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands have all barred flights from the U.Okay., whereas Austria and Sweden are reportedly getting ready to do the identical.

France banned folks and freight coming from the U.Okay., whether or not by highway, air, sea or rail, for 48 hours from Sunday evening. The port of Dover was additionally closed to all automobile visitors leaving the U.Okay., in accordance with a assertion from authorities. The transfer is predicted to trigger miles of lorry back-ups.

On Monday, U.Okay. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps stated it was "slightly surprising" that France had closed its border to freight.

The German authorities, in the meantime, suspended all flights from the U.Okay. from midnight on Sunday. German Health Minister Jens Spahn stated the U.Okay. virus mutation had not but been recognized within the nation.

The info board on the capital's airport reveals flights from London-Gatwick and Manchester as "cancelled". Following the emergence of a new variant of the coronavirus, quite a few international locations are suspending flights from the UK in the meanwhile – together with Germany.Paul Zinken | image alliance | Getty Images

Belgium's ban prevents flights and trains — together with the favored Eurostar high-speed rail service — arriving from the U.Okay. Meanwhile, Italy has blocked all flights from the nation via to Jan. 6, with the Italian well being ministry saying its first case of the brand new virus variant had been reported in Rome. The Netherlands has banned flights from Britain till Jan. 1.

Ireland, which often has important passenger visitors with the U.Okay. presently of 12 months, introduced flights arriving from England, Wales and Scotland can be banned for not less than 48 hours from midnight.

Crisis assembly

The U.Okay. authorities stated it’ll maintain a disaster assembly on Monday to debate the worldwide travel state of affairs. The European Council is predicted to carry talks on a coordinated EU response to the brand new Covid variant at 10 a.m. London time.

The state of affairs might additional complicate Brexit talks. Britain and the European Union stay in impasse over post-Brexit commerce relations as a Dec. 31 deadline looms, with disputes over points akin to fisheries plaguing negotiations. Sterling sank sharply versus the greenback, falling 2.4% to round $1.32.

Other international locations, together with India, Canada and Israel, have additionally imposed new measures barring flights from the U.Okay.

India will droop all flights from the U.Okay. from Wednesday till the top of the 12 months, the nation's aviation ministry stated in a tweet Monday.

European shares bought off sharply Monday amid jitters over the brand new Covid variant. The pan-European Stoxx 600 index fell 3.2%, with travel shares plunging as a lot as 4.6%.

What is the brand new coronavirus variant?

Professor Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, stated Saturday that the U.Okay. had recognized a new Covid variant that "can spread more quickly" than prior strains.

It's not clear whether or not the brand new strain transmits extra simply, makes folks sicker or adjustments the best way their immune system responds to the virus in the event that they have been already contaminated or vaccinated. So far, Whitty, stated, research counsel the brand new strain is considerably extra transmissible however there's no proof to counsel it causes a greater loss of life charge.

People stroll previous the closed entrance of the Eurostar terminal at Brussels South railway station after Britain's European neighbors started closing their doorways to vacationers from the United Kingdom amid alarm about a quickly spreading strain of coronavirus, in Brussels, Belgium December 21, 2020.Yves Herman | Reuters

Whitty added there was a "working assumption" that vaccines ought to nonetheless work towards the mutant strain.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated Sunday that the brand new variant was "out of control" and recommended it could possibly be months earlier than strict coronavirus restrictions can be allowed to finish.

"The new variant is out of control and we need to bring it under control," Hancock advised the BBC's Andrew Marr program on Sunday.

"Essentially we've got to get that vaccine rolled out to keep people safe," Hancock stated in a separate interview with Sky News.

"I think that, given how much faster this new variant spreads, it is going to be very difficult to keep it under control until we have the vaccine rolled out."

The U.Okay. was the primary nation to start out rolling out a main Covid vaccine — specifically, the one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. The vaccines are solely being administered to essentially the most weak folks within the U.Okay. at present, and it's not clear when they are going to change into extra extensively accessible.

primarily based on website supplies www.cnbc.com

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