Countries around the world have imposed restrictions on travel from the UK due to fears of a new strain of the coronavirus.

A government spokesman said it was in contact with its European partners about the travel restrictions, but it was not immediately clear when or for how long they would last.

An EU crisis meeting has been called for Monday to discuss the coordination of the response to coronavirus among the 27 member states.

Boris Johnson said the fast-moving new variant of the virus, which he added is thought to be 70% more transmissible than existing strains, appears to be driving a rapid spread of new infections.

The prime minister put London and much of the South East, where the new strain is most prevalent, into a Tier 4 lockdown over the Christmas period in an attempt to get the disease back under control.

Viruses mutate regularly, and scientists have found thousands of different of mutations among samples of the virus causing COVID-19.

But many of these changes have no effect on how easily the virus spreads or how severe symptoms are.

Britain has alerted the World Health Organisation over the new variant, saying it has accounted for some 60% of London’s cases.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned the country is facing an “enormous challenge”, adding that the mutation was “out of control” and could see areas stuck in Tier 4 until the UK’s most vulnerable have been vaccinated.

The new variant has spread to every region of England, as well as parts of Scotland and Wales. It has been seen in some European countries and even as far away as South Africa and Australia.

In Australia, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said two returned travellers from the UK who tested positive to COVID-19 were found to be carrying the mutated variant of the virus.

© 2020 Sky UK

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News – COVID-19: Countries close borders to UK travel over new COVID variant fears