New Coronavirus Variant Halts Flights to UK
The UK said it recently identified a new variant of the coronavirus and it is spreading quickly around the country. It was first discovered in the middle of October from a sample taken in September. The World Health Organization says the same mutation has also been detected in the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia. This new variant has been shown to spread up to 70% faster based on modelling figures but details still remain unclear. So far there is no evidence that the new variant might be more deadly, or that it would react differently to vaccines.
The news has sparked renewed fears already. Several countries have halted flights to the UK. The Netherlands, Belgium and Austria on Sunday banned flights from the U.K., and Italy and Germany are considering limiting such flights to contain the spread of the new strain of coronavirus sweeping across southern England. Trains to Belgium are also suspended “out of precaution.”
The UK is also taking measures on its own. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday introduced a new tier four level of restrictions, scrapping a planned relaxation of rules over the Christmas period for millions of people, BBC reports.
The World Health Organization sent out a tweet Saturday saying that they are “in close contact with U.K. officials on the new #COVID19 virus variant.” It promised to update governments and the public as more is learned about this variant.