Several EU nations halt UK flights, fearing virus variant

Several EU nations halt UK flights, fearing virus variant

BERLIN – A number of European Union nations on Sunday banned flights from the U.Ok. and Germany was contemplating limiting such flights to guarantee that a brand new pressure of coronavirus sweeping throughout southern England doesn’t set up a robust foothold on the continent.

The Netherlands banned flights from the U.Ok. for at the least the remainder of the yr whereas Belgium issued a flight ban for twenty-four hours beginning at midnight and likewise halted practice hyperlinks to Britain, together with the Eurostar. Austria and Italy stated they’d halt flights from the U.Ok. however didn’t give particulars on any timing of the ban.

Italian Overseas Minister Luigi Di Maio stated on Twitter that the federal government was making ready the measure “to guard Italians” from the brand new coronavirus variant. About two dozen flights have been scheduled to reach in Italy on Sunday, most within the northern area of Lombardy but additionally in Veneto and Lazio, which embody Venice and Rome respectively.

German officers, in the meantime, have been contemplating “severe choices” relating to incoming flights from the U.Ok., however haven’t but taken motion.

The Czech Republic, in the meantime, imposed stricter quarantine measures from individuals arriving from the U.Ok.

The EU governments say they’re appearing in response to harder measures imposed Saturday in London and its surrounding areas by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He instantly put these areas into a brand new Tier 4 degree of restrictions, saying {that a} fast-moving new variant of the virus that’s 70% extra transmissible than current strains seems to be driving the speedy unfold of latest infections in London and southern England.

“There’s no proof to recommend it’s extra deadly or causes extra extreme sickness,” Johnson stated, or that vaccines shall be much less efficient in opposition to it.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo stated Sunday stated he was issuing the flight ban for twenty-four hours beginning at midnight “out of precaution.”

“There are a terrific many questions on this new mutation and if it’s not already on the mainland,” he stated. He hoped to have extra readability by Tuesday.

The World Well being Group tweeted late Saturday that “We’re in shut contact with U.Ok. officers on the brand new #COVID19 virus variant.” It promised to replace governments and the general public as extra is realized about this variant.

The brand new pressure of coronavirus was recognized in southeastern England in September and has been circulating within the space since, a WHO official instructed the BBC on Sunday.

“What we perceive is that it does have elevated transmissibility, when it comes to its capacity to unfold,” stated Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19.

Research are underneath strategy to higher perceive how briskly it spreads and and whether or not “it’s associated to the variant itself, or a mixture of things with conduct,” she stated.

She stated the pressure had additionally been recognized in Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia, the place there was one case that didn’t unfold additional.

“The longer this virus spreads, the extra alternatives it has to alter,” she stated. “So we actually have to do every little thing we will proper now to forestall unfold, and minimizing that unfold will cut back the probabilities of it altering.”

Susan Hopkins of Public Well being England stated that whereas the variant has been circulating since September, it wasn’t till this week that officers felt they’d sufficient proof to declare that it has increased transmissibility than different circulating viruses. The pressure has unfold to different components of the U.Ok. however in smaller quantities than in London and surrounding areas, she instructed the BBC.

Germany has not but spelled out a ban however is contemplating limiting or halting flights from the U.Ok. as nicely, the dpa information company reported Sunday. A high-ranking German official instructed dpa that restrictions on flights from Britain are a “severe possibility.”

Europe has been walloped this fall by hovering new infections and deaths on account of a resurgence of the virus, and many countries have reimposed a sequence of restrictions to reign of their outbreaks.

Britain has seen over 67,000 deaths within the pandemic, the second-highest confirmed toll in Europe after Italy.

Johnson on Saturday closed all non-essential outlets, hairdressers, gyms and swimming pools and instructed Britons to reorganize their vacation plans. No mixing of households is now allowed indoors in Tier 4 areas, together with London, and solely important journey is permitted into and out of such areas. In the remainder of England, individuals shall be allowed to satisfy in Christmas bubbles for simply sooner or later as an alternative of the 5 that have been deliberate.

Additionally Saturday, video emerged exhibiting crowds of individuals dashing to London practice stations, apparently making a touch for locations within the U.Ok. with much less stringent coronavirus restrictions earlier than the brand new guidelines got here into impact. Well being Secretary Matt Hancock stated “these scenes have been completely irresponsible.”

“We in authorities in fact have a duty, however so does each single particular person,” he stated. “The plea that I’ve is that individuals will play their half. As a result of it’s only by appearing — all of us — that we will get this underneath management.”


Raf Casert in Brussels, Sylvia Hui in London and Karel Janicek in Prague contributed reporting.

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