Canada joins EU in international UK flight ban amid mutant coronavirus strain fears

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The new strain was reported only last week, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it appears to be more contagious than the previous one. He cited this as a reason why many parts of the UK were placed into strict Tier 4 coronavirus measures over the weekend which are due to last through Christmas.

In the days after the new strain was reported, European countries including France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands announced bans on arrivals from the UK.

Now, Canada has also stated all commercial, private, and charter flights containing passengers from the UK will be suspended.

The restriction, which came into force at midnight on Sunday, will not apply to cargo flights, emergency landings or technical stops.

At the time of writing the flight ban is only due to last for 72 hours, although this may be extended.

Bill Blair, Canada’s Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, tweeted the decision yesterday.

He wrote: “We are closing the border to all flights entering Canada from the United Kingdom. These measures take effect at midnight tonight, December 20, 2020.

READ: Tory revolt: Health Secretary Matt Hancock URGED to resign over coronavirus tier 4 plans

A press release from the Canadian Government states these enhanced measures would involve “increased scrutiny of quarantine plans” but does not give further details.

It adds: “Genetic variation of viruses such as the one that causes COVID-19 is to be expected and have been previously observed in parts of the world this year.

“While early data suggest that the United Kingdom variant may be more transmissible, to date there is no evidence that the mutations have any impact on symptom severity, antibody response or vaccine efficacy.”

Other non-EU countries to suspend UK flights include Colombia and Iran.

Meanwhile, France’s UK travel restrictions have attracted particular attention because of their potentially damaging impact on supply chains.

The country announced it would be suspending passenger travel and human-handled freight from Britain for 48 hours from 11pm Sunday night.

The Road Haulage Association issued a warning over the move, claiming it could have a “devastating effect” on supplies, The Guardian reports.

It comes on top of disruptions already feared as a result of Brexit – the transition period for which ends on December 31.

Despite the travel restrictions, Italy’s health ministry is reported to have identified a patient infected with the same mutated strain that has been reported in the UK.

It said the patient as well as their partner are now in isolation.



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