Saudi Arabia, Turkey ban international travel over new coronavirus strain discovery in UK
Saudi Arabia is closing its land borders and suspending international flights for one week following the discovery of a new coronavirus strain in the United Kingdom, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reports citing an internal ministry source.
The source said that the new ban could be extended for an additional week.
All people who have arrived in Saudi Arabia from European countries, as well as other states where the new coronavirus strain has emerged, will have to self-isolate at home for two weeks. Those who have visited these countries in the past three months will need to get tested for Covid-19, according to SPA.
Meanwhile, the Turkish authorities said that flights from the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, and South Africa were being temporarily suspended.
“It has been reported that the rate of transmission has increased in the UK with the mutation of the coronavirus. Under the instruction of our President and in coordination with our Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, a temporary suspension has been issued for flights from England, Denmark, the Netherlands, and South Africa to our country,” Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.
Special flights will be organized to bring Turkish citizens back home amid the new ban.
“Within the scope of the measures taken on the mutation risk originating from England, all passengers will be tested and quarantine rules will be applied for flights still en route,” Koca said on Twitter.
Morocco said it was suspending air traffic with the UK starting from late Sunday. The duration of the ban was not announced, according to the MAP news agency.
On Saturday, UK health officials announced that the country had identified a new variant of the coronavirus that is 70 percent more transmissible than other Sars-Cov-2 virus strains.
The UK government practically locked down parts of the country, including London, after admitting that more than half of all new Covid-19 cases had been caused by the new strain.
As UK citizens rushed out of the locked-down areas ahead of Christmas, many countries chose to close borders with the whole of the United Kingdom in a bid to prevent the import of the new virus strain.
The new coronavirus variant, which infects more easily but does not appear to be more deadly or pose any concerns for vaccines, has also been detected in the Netherlands, Denmark, South Africa, and Australia.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)