MIAMI – With the UK’s new COVID-19 virus strain announced this Sunday, several countries have gradually suspended flights to/from the Kingdom.

The reason behind the mass suspensions of UK flights is that the new strain is 70% more contagious, with UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock making public the news that the new SARS CoV 2 virus was “out of control.”

Following suit with the travel bans, Russia will halt operations from December 22, but for only a week, said the country’s coronavirus infection response center. The situation will continue under examination and further decisions will be taken after a completed review.

Also from this Tuesday, Hong Kong will suspend flights from the UK. While Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said authorities had not imposed such stringent measures before, they needed to prevent the spread of the new virus strain. Hong Kong travelers will have to quarantine now for three weeks starting today at midnight.

India has today also banned flights from December 22 to December 31, as per the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) via its Twitter account. This is a big hit for the Indian community in the UK.

In a preventive action, the Civil Aviation Authority of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman have also closed their respective land and sea borders. As a result, all commercial flights in these territories will be suspended for a week or throughout the remainder of 2020, depending on the country.

Last but not least, Canada, Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Israel have also followed suit starting this week, with at least one week of flight suspensions. On the airline’s side, Virgin Atlantic (VS) temporarily cut its operations to the Kingdom.

In the majority of imposed UK travel bans, only cargo and medical flights will be allowed. Photo by Konstantin von Wedelstaedt

Travel Bans to/from the UK across Europe

As the most potentially affected, UK’s neighbors have implemented similar actions. France, the Netherland, and Germany were the first ones to implement emergency actions. Later, Italy, Belgium, Romania, Ireland, Poland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Denmark and Norway announced similar air travel actions.

Following the worldwide UK flight bans, Wizz Air (W6) suspended flights from the UK to Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, and Austria on December 21 and 22.

On its part, Moldova will halt passenger operations with the UK from December 23. Additionally, the country’s National Extraordinary Public Health Commission encouraged public order authorities to “step up the surveillance” of the COVID-19 protection measures.

COntinuing, the Czech Republic’s Health Ministry said that the country’s imposed UK travel ban would last from today at noon until the end of the year. However, the measure will not apply for repatriation and emergency flights. For those travelers coming from the UK, the now mandatory 10-day quarantine is in effect, albeit with the presentation of a negative PCR test.

In the meantime, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced restrictions in England to contain the spread of the new COVID strain. He also encouraged to limit holiday celebrations.

Wizz Air Airbus A321 aircraft. Photo: tjdarmstadt.

Positive Case Found in Germany Airport

Regarding Germany, the travel ban was imposed at midnight Sunday. With such short notice, several arriving passengers from the UK were held at airports overnight. In Hannover, 63 passengers arriving from London were held at the airport overnight on Sunday.

Germany’s legal residents were eventually allowed to leave the airport that night and non-residents were tested in the morning. Under new measures, nationals must undergo testing at a later point. 

Sadly, in one case, a passenger tested positive for COVID-19. So far, it is not clear whether it was a new strain. As the first stages of this worldwide strict quarantine due to the new outbreak, the UK flight exceptions only include cargo and medical flights.

Featured photo: UK Civil Aviation Authority. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto. Copyright: honglouwawa.