Bharat joins other nations, bans all flights to UK till 31 Dec due to fears of more infectious Coronavirus strain

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has suspended all flights from the UK to Bharat till December 31 in the wake of the new mutant strain of novel coronavirus.

The suspension will start with effect from 23.59 hours on December 22, 2020. Consequently, all flights from Bharat to UK shall also stand temporarily suspended during the period, said a Ministry tweet.

“Considering the prevailing situation in the UK, the government of India has decided that all flights originating from UK to India to be suspended till December 31, 2020 (23.59 hours),” the tweet read.

It added that as a measure of abundant precaution, passengers arriving from the UK in all transit flights should be subjected to mandatory RT-PCR test on arrival at the airports in Bharat.

With this, Bharat has become the 10th country to suspend travel to and from the UK over the new coronavirus variant detected in the country after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on December 19 that an infection was fast spreading in London and southern England. The new strain of coronavirus is reportedly up to 70 per cent more infectious.

According to UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the new variant was “out of control”.

The planned relaxation of coronavirus rules for Christmas has been scrapped for a large part of southeast England, and cut to one day for rest of the region.

On Saturday, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Canada, Ireland and Bulgaria had announced restrictions on UK travel hours after Boris Johnson made the announcement. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Switzerland have also announced the suspension of UK flights, the BBC reported.

However, Indian-American Vivek Murthy, US President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Surgeon General, has said that the highly infectious new mutant Covid-19 strain discovered in Britain, while more transmissible does not appear to be any deadlier.

“While it seems to be more transmissible, we do not have evidence yet that this is a more deadly virus to an individual who acquires it,” The Hill news website quoted Murthy as saying on NBC News on Sunday. He added that there was also no proof that Covid-19 vaccines would be less effective against the new strain.

“It turns out that masking, that keeping physical distance, washing our hands, these are still the pillars of preventing Covid-19 transmission,” Murthy was quoted as further saying.

Reports of detection of the new UK strain in patients in Australia and Italy have also emerged.

(With IANS inputs)


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