Netherlands bans UK flights after finding new coronavirus strain

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Highlights

Dutch government bans all passenger flights from UK as a ‘precautionary’ bid to limit spread of mutated virus strain.

The Netherlands has banned flights carrying passengers from the United Kingdom after Dutch authorities found the first case of the new, more infectious coronavirus strain that is circulating in England.

The Dutch government, in a statement early on Sunday, said the ban will remain in place until January 1.

Said to spread more easily and faster and is more difficult to detect

“An infectious mutation of the COVID-19 virus is circulating in the United Kingdom. It is said to spread more easily and faster and is more difficult to detect,” the health ministry said in a statement.

The Dutch public health body, the RIVM, therefore “recommends any introduction of this virus strain from the UK be limited as much as possible by limiting and/or controlling passenger movements”.

The ministry said a case study in the Netherlands “at the beginning of December revealed a virus with the variant described” in the UK.

Experts were looking at how the infection happened and whether there were related cases, it added.

Ban on flights from the UK as a “precautionary” measure

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s cabinet’s ordered the ban on flights from the UK as a “precautionary” measure, the ministry said, adding that the Dutch government is reviewing other modes of transport.

“Over the next few days, together with other EU member states, the government will explore the scope for further limiting the risk of the new strain of the virus being brought over from the UK,” it added.

The Netherlands is under a five-week lockdown until mid-January with schools and all non-essential shops closed to slow a surge in the virus.

New strain of coronavirus identified is up to 70 percent more infectious

The ban on UK flights comes after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and scientists announced on Saturday that the new strain of coronavirus identified in the country is up to 70 percent more infectious.

But Johnson said the new variant is not thought to be more deadly and vaccines should still be effective.

The British prime minister also said London and southeast England, which are currently in the highest level of a three-tier system of rules, would now be placed in a new Tier 4 level.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it was in close contact with British officials and would update the public “as we learn more about the characteristics of this virus variant and any implications”.

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