Several Nations Ban Travel From UK after Reports of New Covid-19 Variant


Several countries have started to impose restrictions on travelers coming from the United Kingdom following reports of a new COVID-19 variant emanating from the country.

Among the countries that have issued travel bans as early as the weekend are European countries that include France, Ireland, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, Estonia, Latvia, and Czech Republic.

France announced on Sunday that it would suspend travel to and from the United Kingdom due to the new health risk as announced by French Prime Minister Jean Castex. Closure of Dover port and Eurotunnel were also announced.

Flights have been suspended to and from the UK in Ireland and in Italy regardless of nationality. In Portugal, only citizens are allowed entry into the country from the UK with a requirement of submitting a negative Covid test in the past two weeks.

Belgium also prohibited entry from the UK starting Monday as a precautionary measure while the Netherlands and Latvia enforced longer bans that will last until New Year’s Day. The Czech Republic, meanwhile, imposed mandatory 10-day quarantine.

Other countries like Canada also imposed bans from travel from the UK starting midnight Sunday for at least 72 hours. However, Canada has not yet implemented bans from traveling to the UK. Other countries that also issued travel bans and restrictions include Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel.

South American countries that include Argentina, Chile, and Colombia also suspended direct flights to and from the UK.

Aside from the UK, the new coronavirus variant has already been traced in Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, and Australia which prompted local health officials there impose strict quarantine measures given that the new variant has been reported to be more transmissible.

How are UK officials reacting to the new Covid variant?

UK officials led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson held an emergency meeting on Monday as many countries have imposed travel restrictions from traveling to and from the United Kingdom after hearing that the new coronavirus variant is potentially fast-spreading.

Johnson told reporters on Monday that the new variant seemed to “be up to 70% more transmissible,” and was responsible for a significant rise in cases in London and southeastern England. The identification of the new strain also prompted the UK government to impose a Tier 4 lockdown in London and southeastern England, and tighten restrictions for all of England over the holidays to further stem transmission which already reached over 36,000 new cases.

As with other new variants of Covid-19, CNN reports that the UK variant carries a genetic fingerprint that makes it easy to track, and it happens to be one that is now common. That does not mean the mutation has made it spread more easily, nor does it not necessarily mean this variation is more dangerous.

Reports from multiple experts in the genetics and epidemiology of viruses are noting that this variant could be just a “lucky” variation that’s been amplified because of a super spreader event.

On Sunday, Johnson said:

“Given the early evidence we have on this new variant of the virus, and the potential risk it poses, it is with a heavy heart that I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned,” the UK Prime Minister tweeted.

“We are sacrificing our chance to see loved ones this Christmas, so we have a better chance of protecting their lives so we can see them at future Christmases,” he said.

As the country implements Tier 4 restrictions that place parts of the UK back into the lockdown seen at the onset of the pandemic, several Londoners have moved out of the city and from areas identified where strict lockdowns are to be imposed.

Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan called the introduction of the restrictions “devastating” in an interview with the BBC, adding that scenes at London train stations “was a direct consequence of the chaotic way the announcement was made, and the late stage it was made.”


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