EU officers are discussing a joint response to a brand new, extra infectious Covid-19 variant within the UK, which has sparked journey bans by many international locations.
Canada and India joined European states in blocking flights from the UK whereas Europe-bound practice companies through the Channel Tunnel have been halted.
The brand new variant is alleged to be 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 recommend that it reacts otherwise to vaccines.
Two conferences are going down in Brussels on Monday – one involving well being ministers and one other with the EU’s disaster response group. However no resolution is predicted till Tuesday, when EU ambassadors meet.
A French official instructed the BBC’s Gavin Lee that they had been determined to reopen the borders “as quickly as safely doable”, with one choice mentioned being the requirement that UK travellers – together with lorry drivers – show they’ve had a latest unfavorable Covid-19 take a look at.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson mentioned he had an “wonderful” dialog with French President Emmanuel Macron and was eager to discover a resolution “in just a few hours”.
“I wish to stress we within the UK absolutely perceive our associates’ anxieties concerning the new variant. But it surely’s additionally true that the dangers of transmission sitting alone within the cab may be very low. So we hope to make progress,” he mentioned.
UK Well being Secretary Matt Hancock earlier mentioned the brand new variant was “uncontrolled”, whereas Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands introduced they’d already detected it.
Following the invention of case in Denmark, neighbouring Sweden banned all international travellers from there.
Additionally on Monday, the EU’s medicines regulator permitted the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use in all 27 member states.
The vaccine is already being administered within the UK and within the US, and a few European international locations plan to start administering doses from 27 December.
Which international locations have acted and the way?
France suspended all journey hyperlinks, together with freight lorries, with the UK for 48 hours from midnight (23:00 GMT) on Sunday. 1000’s of lorries transfer between the international locations every single day.
Eurotunnel mentioned it will droop entry to its Folkestone terminal for visitors heading to Calais. Folks booked to journey on Monday can get a refund. Trains will nonetheless run from Calais to Folkestone.
The ferry terminal at Dover is now closed for all accompanied traffic leaving the UK until further notice due to the French restrictions. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a Cobra emergency response meeting to debate the difficulty on Monday.
Different international locations took completely different motion in response to the brand new virus variant:
- Germany, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, Malta, Croatia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia all suspended flights from the UK
- One of the crucial well-liked vacation locations for UK residents, Spain, additionally suspended flights
- Italy blocked all flights from the UK till 6 January, whereas the Netherlands banned all passenger flights from the UK till 1 January “on the newest”. Ferry passengers are additionally barred from arriving within the Netherlands from the UK, though freight can proceed
- Belgium halted flights and trains from the UK till the tip of Tuesday
- Greece prolonged its quarantine interval for travellers from the UK from three days to seven
- Within the Republic of Eire, flights arriving from Britain are banned for 48 hours no less than from midnight on Sunday and folks have been requested to not “journey to Eire, by air or sea”. Ferry crossings for freight will proceed
- Turkey has quickly banned all flights from the UK, as have Norway and Switzerland
- 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 mentioned.
- Russia is suspending flights from the UK for one week
- India is suspending flights from the UK from 23:59 (18:29 GMT) on Tuesday till 31 December
- Hong Kong, Israel, Iran, Croatia, Morocco and Kuwait introduced in restrictions on UK journey
- In Latin America, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Peru all banned flights from the UK
- Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait went even additional, closing their borders utterly for every week
What do we all know concerning the new variant?
The brand new variant was first detected in September. In November it made up round 1 / 4 of circumstances in London. This reached almost two-thirds of circumstances 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 prone 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 would not have absolute certainty. New strains can develop into extra frequent just by being in the best place on the proper time – similar to London.
This variant is unusually extremely mutated. The probably 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 recommend the variant makes the an infection extra lethal, and no less than for now the developed vaccines will nearly definitely work in opposition to it.
Nonetheless, if the virus modifications so it dodges the total impact of the vaccine, then “vaccine escape” occurs, and this can be essentially the most regarding ingredient.
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