Monday, 25 January, 2021

United Kingdom bans air travel from South America amid variant fears

One mutation known as E484K has raised alarm among researchers One mutation known as E484K has raised alarm among researchers
Gustavo Carr | 14 January, 2021, 20:38

The UK has also banned arrivals from Cape Verde, the Atlantic island country, and suspended travel from Portugal, which has strong links to Brazil, Shapps said.

From 4am Friday 15 January 2021, passengers who have been in or transited through Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Panama, Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores), Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela in the last 10 days will no longer be granted access to the UK.

Travel from Portugal to the United Kingdom will also be suspended "given its strong travel links with Brazil", Shapps said, adding this was "another way to reduce the risk of importing infections".

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.

Now flights the other way are also set to be scrapped.

Brazil has already banned flights from the United Kingdom due to the British strain of the virus. Hauliers from Portugal will nonetheless be exempted from the ban, to prevent disruption to the transport of essential goods.

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The 15 flights will be at no more than 25% capacity, and will arrive over a 36-hour period ending early Saturday. The Australian Open replied to the odd turn events with Tweets of its own.

The measures will come into effect at 4 a.m. GMT on Friday.

According to Sky News and The Telegraph, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs on Wednesday that the government was "concerned" over the new variant, adding: "We are taking steps to ensure that we do not see the import of this new variant from Brazil". It is typical for viruses to mutate, and variants are not necessarily more harmful.

"I think it's fair to say that there are lots of questions we still have about that variant". It is unclear whether the existing vaccines will work on the Brazilian strain. The strain is thought to be more infectious than the original strain.

The results showed IgG antibodies in 210 blood samples, among which 16 samples were collected before the country's first officially-confirmed COVID-19 case on February 26, 2020, suggesting earlier presence of the novel coronavirus in the country.

United Kingdom hospitals, particularly in southern England and London, are now struggling with the COVID-19 outbreak. As of Thursday morning, the country's overall infection tally and death toll stood at 8,256,536 and 205,964.

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