India on Monday announced a temporary suspension of flights from the United Kingdom following the announcement by Britain that a new highly-infectious strain of the novel coronavirus was in circulation there.
The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation announced that flights from the UK to India shall remain in suspension till 11:59 pm, December 31. The suspension comes into force at 11.59 pm, December 22, i.e. Tuesday.
“Considering the prevailing situation in the UK, the Indian government has decided that all flights originating from the UK to India shall be temporarily suspended till 11:59 pm, 31st December. This suspension to start w.e.f. 11.59 pm, 22nd December,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation announced.
Meanwhile, Italy has detected a patient infected with the new strain of the coronavirus also found in Britain, the health ministry has said. The patient and his partner returned from the United Kingdom in the last few days with a flight that landed at Rome’s Fiumicino airport and were now in isolation, the ministry said. Britain’s European neighbors began closing their doors to travelers from the United Kingdom on Sunday amid alarm about the rapidly spreading strain of coronavirus that has caused cases to soar there.
US authorities are looking “very carefully” into the virus variant spreading in the United Kingdom, top health officials said Sunday, while indicating that a ban on UK travel was not currently in the cards. The news came as a US expert panel recommended those aged 75 and older should be the next vaccinated against the virus, along with 30 million “frontline essential workers,” including teachers, grocery store employees, and police. Addressing the virus variant, Moncef Slaoui, chief advisor to the government’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine program, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that US officials “don’t know yet” if it is present in the country. “We are, of course… looking very carefully into this,” including at the National Institutes of Health and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he said. At the moment, he said, no strain of the virus appears to be resistant to the vaccines available.
Although mutations of the Sars-CoV-2 have been reported in recent months from various parts of the world, the VUI-202012/01 variant traced in the UK has raised cause for concern. Addressing a press conference, PM Johnson said that preliminary data evidenced that it is 70% more transmissible.
The New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), an expert committee of the UK Department of Health and Social Care, in its report concluded that it has “moderate confidence that VUI-202012/01 demonstrates a substantial increase in transmissibility compared to other variants.” The UK government’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty was also quoted as saying by The Guardian, “Nervtag now considers that the new strain can spread more quickly. We have alerted the World Health Organization and are continuing to analyze the available data to improve our understanding.”
Britain’s European neighbors began closing their doors to travelers from the United Kingdom amid alarm about a rapidly spreading strain of coronavirus that has caused cases to soar there. France said it would bar all people coming from the UK for 48 hours from Sunday night, including freight carriers, whether by road, air, sea, or rail. Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands ordered a suspension of flights from Britain, while Ireland said it would impose restrictions on flights and ferries from its neighbor.