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The Netherlands Becomes First Country to Ban All Passenger Flights From UK On COVID-19 Mutation Fears

The Netherlands Becomes First Country to Ban All Passenger Flights From UK On COVID-19 Mutation Fears

The Netherlands has become the first country in the world to ban all passenger flights from the United Kingdom after the British government revealed that it had detected a COVID-19 mutant strain that has been found circulating rapidly in London and which can spread up to 70 per cent easier than previous strains of the deadly virus.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation on Saturday afternoon to announce details of a new lockdown that would affect millions of people in London and the South East in an effort to contain the variant strain. Along with a strict ‘stay at home’ order under hastily created ‘Tier 4’ restrictions, residents have also been banned from travelling abroad.

Photo Credit: KLM

Details of the new Coronavirus strain were first announced on Monday and had been found through routine surveillance testing according to chief medical officer Chris Whitty. The variant is now the most predominant strain of the virus circulating in London but health officials say there’s currently no evidence that it is more deadly than other strains or that it won’t respond to vaccines.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been alerted to the new “mutant” strain as scientists urgently work to establish how much of a threat the variant poses. Worryingly, the British government became aware of the new variant in late September but has only now brought it to the attention of the international community.

While the variant is believed to have originated in the UK, it has already been detected in Denmark and Australia.

Moving to limit further spread of the new strain, the Dutch government announced it would ban all inbound passenger flights from the UK as of 6 am on Sunday morning. The ban will remain in force until January 1 at the earliest.

The Netherlands is already in lockdown to slow the spread of a surge in infections and people are being told to avoid all but essential international travel. Passenger flights are still allowed to fly to the UK and flag carrier KLM is still operating a number of flights to London Heathrow on Sunday.

The planes will, however, have to return to Amsterdam empty.

Passengers will still be able to get to the Netherlands by flying through a third country or crossing the border in another way. New arrivals are required to quarantine for 10-days and the Dutch government intends to require a negative PCR test for travellers coming from ‘high-risk’ locations.

The Dutch government said it would be working with other countries across Europe to further limit the spread of the new variant.

In November, a number of countries moved quickly to ban all passenger flights from Denmark following the discovery of a new Coronavirus strain in an outbreak in farmed mink. Danish officials were able to contain the outbreak and most travel restrictions have now been eased.

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