Several European countries are considering to ban flights coming from the United Kingdom to prevent the spread of the new strain of the coronavirus, BBC reported on Sunday. Both the Netherlands and Belgium have suspended flights while the latter Belgium has stopped trains from the UK as well.
Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has indicated that his government was planning to suspend flights from the country. France and Germany were also reportedly planning to take similar actions. A German health ministry official told AFP that the country was considering banning flights from the UK and South Africa.
Belgium Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said that the ban would be in place for at least 24 hours. He said it was a precautionary measure, adding “we will see later if we need additional measures”. The Netherlands said the ban on all passenger flights from the UK will be in force till January 1.
The moves came as about a third of England’s population has entered a Christmas lockdown and UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that the new strain of the virus was “out of control”. The new variant of the virus has spread fast in London and south-East England.
Hancock had said the situation was “deadly serious”. “It’s going to be very difficult to keep it under control until we have the vaccine rolled out,” he told Sky News.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had on Saturday asked the people to cancel their Christmas plans and stay home as the new strain was spreading more quickly. He had announced a new tier-four level of restrictions cancelling plans for relaxed Christmas norms.
Johnson had said the new strain “may be up to 70% more transmissible than the old variant” although there was no evidence it was more deadly or led to a more severe illness.
The UK has so far reported 20,10,077 Covid-19 infections, according to the John Hopkins University data. The toll stood at 67,177.