Johnson to chair emergency meeting amid int’l flight bans to UK

London, Dec 21 : UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair an emergency meeting on Monday to review the situation after several countries across the world have either suspended or temporarily halted flights to and fro from Britain following the discovery of a highly infectious new mutant Covid-19 strain.

The development came after nations including France, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Irish Republic, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Switzerland and Canada have announced the suspension of UK flights, the BBC reported.

France has also closed its border with the UK for 48 hours, meaning no lorries or ferry passengers will be able to sail from the port of Dover.

While, Hong Kong will enforce the flight ban from Monday midnight, Austria is also set to bring in a suspension.

Also on Monday, European Union member states will in Brussels to discuss a co-ordinated response to the development.

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The new variant, the discovery of which was announced by Johnson on December 19, has spread quickly in London and south-east England, but health officials have said that there was no evidence that it is more deadly or would react differently to vaccines.

According to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that the new variant, which may be up to 70 per cent more transmissible, was “getting out of control”.

From Sunday morning, London, the South East and East of England moved into Tier Four restrictions, which will be broadly similar to national restrictions introduced in England in November.

The planned relaxation of coronavirus rules for Christmas has been scrapped for a large part of southeast England, and cut to one day for rest of the region.

The restrictions will last for two weeks and will be reviewed on December 30.

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In the wake of the new restrictions, the government on Monday pledged to provide refunds for rail and coach tickets bought for the Christmas travel window between December 23-27, the BBC reported.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said this would apply to journeys in England booked on or after November 24, when the Christmas travel window was announced.

“This ensures no one is left out of pocket for doing the right thing – staying home in tier four, and elsewhere staying local and only meeting your Christmas bubble on Christmas Day,” he was quoted as saying.

The UK has so far reported a total of 2,046,161 coronavirus cases since the onset of the pandemic earlier this year, while the death toll stood at 67,503.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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