Several European countries ban flights from Britain over new COVID strain
The Netherlands, Belgium and Austria has on Sunday banned flights from the U.K. and Germany considered limiting such flights to curb the spread of Coronavirus’s second wave across the globe.
The Netherlands banned flights from the U.K. for at least the rest of the year while Belgium issued a flight ban for 24 hours starting at midnight and also halted train links to Britain, including the Eurostar. German officials were considering “serious options” regarding incoming flights from the U.K., but have not yet taken action.
Millions of people in London began their first full day of a new lockdown as the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said the newly identified strain of the virus was “out of control”.
Italy’s foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, said the government had decided to act after the UK “raised the alarm about a new form of Covid as a result of a mutation of the virus”.
The World Health Organization (WHO) tweeted late Saturday that, “We’re in close contact with U.K. officials on the new #COVID19 virus variant.”
The new strain of coronavirus was identified in southeastern England in September and has been circulating in the area since, a WHO official told.
“What we understand is that it does have increased transmissibility, in terms of its ability to spread,” said WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19.
Studies are under way to better understand how fast it spreads and and whether “it’s related to the variant itself, or a combination of factors with behavior,” she said.
Moreover, Europe has been walloped this fall by soaring new infections and deaths due to a resurgence of the virus, and many nations have reimposed a series of restrictions to reign in their outbreaks.
Britain has seen over 67,000 deaths in the pandemic, the second-highest confirmed toll in Europe after Italy.
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