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New COVID-19 ‘mutation’ in UK prompts several countries to ban travel

Thomas Catenacci, DCNF

Several European countries announced travel bans from the U.K. to combat the spread of a new, more contagious strain of coronavirus days before Christmas.

Netherlands and Belgium banned passenger air travel from the U.K., leaders from both countries announced Sunday, while France, Germany, Italy, Ireland and Israel were expected to introduce restrictions of their own, the BBC reported. The U.K. informed the World Health Organization Saturday that the mutant strain of coronavirus could spread quicker than previous strains.

“This is a precautionary measure and we will see later if we need additional measures,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Sunday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Belgium banned all flights and rail arrivals from the U.K. while Netherlands banned flight arrivals, The WSJ reported. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Italy would also prohibit travel, but the details weren’t finalized.

“The U.K. has raised the alarm about a new form of Covid resulting from a mutation in the virus,” Di Maio said in a Facebook post. “Our priority is to protect Italy and our compatriots.”

Meanwhile, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson implemented strict measures limiting Christmas gathering and shopping in southern England Saturday in response to the new coronavirus strain.

“I know how much emotion people invest in this time of year, and how important it is for grandparents to see their grandchildren,” Johnson said, according to The Associated Press. “But when the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defense.”

European countries has reported increasing coronavirus cases and deaths since mid-October, according to data compiled by The Financial Times.

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