‘Don’t panic’: Health Min after demands of UK flights ban erupt over new Covid strain

Several countries imposed a ban on international flights from the UK, including Canada, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Hong Kong and the EU.

New Delhi: Even as concerns emerged regarding rising mutant COVID-19 strain in the United Kingdom (UK) across the world, union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday urged the Indian population not to panic.

“The government is fully alert. In the last one year, as you all have seen, we took all necessary measures to ensure the safety of people,” the health minister said, replying to a question if India is planning to impose a UK travel ban. Several countries imposed a ban on international flights from the UK, including Canada, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Hong Kong and the EU.

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The health minister’s comments came shortly after chief ministers Arvind Kejriwal (Delhi) and Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan) urged the government to take immediate action and ban all flights from the UK immediately.

The mutant virus was first detected in southeast England in September. It is quickly becoming the dominant strain in London and other parts of the UK, and has led to surging infection numbers and fresh restrictions, casting a cloud on Christmas celebrations.

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On Sunday, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “the new variant is out of control”. Over the weekend, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed an effective lockdown on more than 16 million people in England.

Outside Britain, Italy has reported a patient, who had recently returned from the UK, infected with the mutant virus.

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