Ban on UK flights: Here’s how countries have reacted to new Covid-19 variant
Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said there is no evidence to suggest the new variant of coronavirus causes a higher mortality rate or it affects vaccines and treatments, however, urgent work is underway to confirm this.
While some countries have decided to ban flights from the United Kingdom, some are still mulling over the action after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday confirmed that a new strain of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is rapidly spreading in certain areas. During a televised briefing, Johnson said that the new variant of the coronavirus is 70% more transmissible than existing strains.
“There is still much we don’t know. While we are fairly certain the variant is transmitted more quickly, there is no evidence to suggest that it is more lethal or causes more severe illness,” said the UK PM.
Johnson announced that London, parts of the South East and the East of England, which were under Tier 3 restrictions, have been moved to Tier 4. Ahead of the announcement, Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said there is no evidence to suggest the new variant of coronavirus causes a higher mortality rate or it affects vaccines and treatments, however, urgent work is underway to confirm this.
“We have alerted the World Health Organisation and are continuing to analyse the available data to improve our understanding,” Whitty said in a statement.
Here’s how other countries have reacted to the threat of new virus strain:
Netherlands: The European nation announced a ban on all UK passenger flights, which came into effect on Sunday and will last until January 1. The Dutch government said it will assess with other EU nations the “possibilities to contain the import of the virus” from the UK.
Belgium: The government issued a flight ban for 24 hours starting at midnight and also halted train links to Britain. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on Sunday said that he was issuing the flight ban “out of precaution.” “There are a great many questions about this new mutation and if it is not already on the mainland,” he said.
Italy: Foreign minister Luigi di Maio said Italy plans to suspend flights to and from the UK over fears of the new strain of coronavirus. “As a government, we have the duty to protect Italians, for this reason, after having notified the British government, with the Ministry of Health we are about to sign the provision to suspend flights with Great Britain,” Di Maio wrote in a Facebook post.
Germany: The German government is also reportedly mulling over the decision to ban flights from Britain as a high-ranking official told news agency dpa that restrictions on flights from the UK are “serious option.”
Austria: The EU member has said that it would also ban flights from Britain, but no immediate details on the timing of the ban were announced, according to the Austrian news agency APA.
Kuwait: The civil aviation authority of the Arab nation on Sunday added the UK to its high-risk list of countries, following instructions from the health authorities. All flights from the countries on the high-risk list are prohibited from entering Kuwait.
Israel: The Israeli government has reportedly decided mandatory two-week quarantine for all arrivals from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Denmark. According to a local daily Haaretz, people arriving from these three countries have to undergo two negative coronavirus tests, one upon arrival and a second after nine days, if they would like to reduce the quarantine period to 10 days.