Monday, December 21, 2020

New coronavirus strain: Can India follow European countries to suspend flights from London?

A new and more infectious strain of coronavirus has been found in parts of Europe including the UK, The Netherlands, Denmark and Austria which has sent an alarm across the world as the British government stated the new mutated form of the virus is 70 per cent more transmissible and "out of control".

Fearing a spike in the number of cases, the UK government has imposed a strict lockdown in London and South-East England amid Christmas celebrations.

Worried by the potential influx of travellers from Britain, countries such as Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands on Sunday announced the suspension of air links, and in some cases rail and ferry routes as well, from Britain. The step has been taken so that the threat of this new strain does not reach these countries. Several more countries are considering such restrictions.

With India and UK having an air travel bubble arrangement, there are concerns about India doing the same. The Union Health Ministry has called a meeting on Monday (December 21) of its joint monitoring group, including experts from AIIMS and ICMR, to discuss the situation in the UK and is likely to firm its opinion after the meeting.

India to London is one of the busiest international air routes as thousands of people travel between the two countries during this time of the year for Christmas. At present, Air India and Vistara are offering services to the UK capital. 

Notably, France has prohibited all travel from Britain for the next 48 hours from midnight on Sunday. The announcement was made from the Prime Minister's Office, which said that people going to Britain would not be affected by it. Although people can go to Britain from France, people will not be able to travel from Britain to France for the next 48 hours.

21/12/20 Abhishek Sharma/DNA

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