India temporarily suspends flights from UK over mutant coronavirus strain

Travellers walk outside of King's Cross station as the British government imposes a stricter tiered set of restrictions amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in London, Britain, on 20 December 2020.

Travellers walk outside of King's Cross station as the British government imposes a stricter tiered set of restrictions amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in London, Britain, on 20 December 2020. Reuters/Toby Melville

Hindustan Times

NEW DELHI, India, 21 December 2020

India on Monday temporarily suspended flight services from the United Kingdom in the wake of the deadly strain of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) emerging there.

The suspension will come into effect on 22 December and will remain in place till 31 December.

“Considering the prevailing situation in the UK, Indian govt has decided that all flights originating from the UK to India shall be temporarily suspended till 11:59 pm, 31st December. This suspension to start wef 11:59 pm, 22nd December,” the civil aviation ministry said in a statement.

The ministry further said that as a measure of abundant precaution, passengers arriving from the UK in all transit flights (flights that have taken off or flights which are reaching India before 22nd Dec at 23:59 hrs) should be subject to mandatory RT-PCR test on arrival at the airports concerned.

The United Kingdom stood shut off from the rest of Europe on Monday after allies cut transport ties over fears of a new coronavirus strain.

France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium, Israel and Canada were among those that shut off travel ties after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that a highly infectious new strain of the virus was a danger to the country.

The pound fell more than 2 cents to $1.3279 and the FTSE 100 fell 2% at the open, with travel companies such as British Airways-owner IAG tumbling 15%. The yield on 2-year UK gilts hit a record low.

The new strain of the virus – which accounts for one-third of the current cases in London – is believed to be 70% more infectious that the other strains in circulation. The United Kingdom announced a surprise lockdown in London and other parts of the country amid the surge in cases due to the new strain of the virus.

The new strain of the virus was first detected in September and has been shown to increase the spread of the disease in labs. So far, there is no evidence to suggest that it leads to more deaths.


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