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Covid: EU to debate response to variant as journey bans on UK develop

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Passengers queue for check-in at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex.

picture copyrightPA Media

picture captionQuite a few nations have launched journey bans amid considerations over the brand new coronavirus variant

European Union officers will talk about later a co-ordinated response to a brand new, extra infectious coronavirus variant within the UK, which has led many nations to impose journey bans.

Germany, France and Italy are amongst these to droop flights from the UK. Outbound prepare companies by means of the Channel Tunnel have additionally been halted.

Canada can also be blocking UK flights.

Well being officers say the brand new variant is as much as 70% extra transmissible, however there is no such thing as a proof that it’s extra lethal.

There’s additionally no proof to counsel that it reacts otherwise to vaccines.

UK Well being Secretary Matt Hancock stated the brand new variant was “getting uncontrolled” whereas Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands introduced that they had already detected it.

  • New coronavirus variant: What do we know?

  • Tracking the global pandemic: Where has been hit hardest?

The European Council assembly of presidency representatives is anticipated to happen at 10:00 GMT. The velocity at which European governments have introduced their bans on travellers from the UK reveals the size of the alarm, the BBC’s Gavin Lee in Brussels stories.

Additionally on Monday, the European Medicines Company is anticipated to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine that’s already being administered within the UK and within the US beneath emergency approval.

Which European nations have acted and the way?

The Netherlands stated it could ban all passenger flights from the UK till 1 January “on the newest”. Ferry passengers arriving from the UK would even be barred though freight would proceed.

France suspended all journey hyperlinks, together with freight lorries, with the UK for 48 hours from midnight on Sunday. 1000’s of lorries transfer between the nations day-after-day.

In response to France’s ban, Eurotunnel stated it could droop entry to its Folkestone terminal for site visitors heading to Calais. Folks booked to journey on Monday can get a refund. Trains will nonetheless run from Calais to Folkestone.

picture copyrightGetty Photos
picture captionOutbound prepare companies by means of the Channel Tunnel – together with the Eurostar – have been halted

In Eire, which has important passenger site visitors with the UK presently of yr, the federal government introduced that flights arriving from Britain can be banned for 48 hours at the very least from midnight.

It additionally stated that “within the pursuits of public well being, individuals in Britain, no matter nationality, mustn’t journey to Eire, by air or sea”. Ferry crossings for freight would proceed.

In Germany, an order from the ministry of transport stated planes from the UK wouldn’t be allowed to land after midnight on Sunday, though cargo can be an exception.

media captionAre you able to turn out to be resistant to coronavirus?

Belgium stated it was halting flights and trains from the UK from midnight on Sunday for at the very least 24 hours as a “precautionary measure”.

Italy is obstructing all flights from the UK till 6 January. Turkey has quickly banned all flights from the UK as has Switzerland.

Austria is to ban flights from the UK. Bulgaria has suspended flights to and from the UK from midnight however, not like the short-term measures in lots of different nations, its ban lasts till 31 January.

What’s the state of affairs elsewhere?

Canada has suspended entry of all passenger flights from the UK for 72 hours, efficient from midnight (05:00 GMT). Passengers who arrived in Canada from the UK on Sunday can be “topic to secondary screening and enhanced measures, together with elevated scrutiny of quarantine plans,” it stated.

Different nations to announce restrictions on UK journey embrace Israel, Iran, Chile, Croatia, Morocco and Kuwait.

In the meantime, Saudi Arabia has suspended all worldwide flights for one week due to the pandemic.

What do we all know in regards to the new variant?

The brand new variant was first detected in September. In November it made up round 1 / 4 of instances in London. This reached almost two-thirds of instances in mid-December.

Three issues are coming collectively that imply it’s attracting consideration:

  • It’s quickly changing different variations of the virus
  • It has mutations that have an effect on a part of the virus more likely to be necessary
  • A few of these mutations have already been proven within the lab to extend the power of the virus to contaminate cells

All of those come collectively to construct a case for a virus that may unfold extra simply. Nonetheless, we should not have absolute certainty. New strains can turn out to be extra widespread just by being in the suitable place on the proper time – comparable to London.

This variant is unusually extremely mutated. The more than likely rationalization is it emerged in a affected person with a weakened immune system that was unable to beat the virus.

There isn’t a proof but to counsel the variant makes the an infection extra lethal, and at the very least for now the developed vaccines will virtually actually work towards it.

Nonetheless, if the virus adjustments so it dodges the total impact of the vaccine, then “vaccine escape” occurs, and this can be essentially the most regarding factor.

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media captionBBC Center East correspondent Yolande Knell joins rehearsals for the festive processions which are nonetheless going forward in Bethlehem

How are the brand new restrictions affecting you? Share your experiences by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

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