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BERLIN –
Successively, several EU countries banned flights from the USAK am Sonntag and others like Germany considered such measures, all in hopes of preventing a new strain of coronavirus sweeping southern England from gaining a foothold on the continent

The Netherlands banned flights from the UK at least for the rest of the year, while Belgium banned flights for 24 hours from midnight and also stopped train connections to the UK, including the Eurostars, Austria and Italy said they would suspend flights from the UK but didn’t say exactly when that would take place

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Twitter that the government was preparing the ban “to protect Italians” from the new variant of coronavirus. About two dozen flights should arrive in Italy on Sunday, mostly in the northern region of Lombardy, but also to Venice and Rome

German officials meanwhile said they are considering “serious options” for inbound flights from the USAK and the Czech Republic imposed stricter quarantine measures on people coming from Great Britain An EU official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were still ongoing, said on Sunday afternoon that the EU Commission was working with member states about the rapidly developing situation Situation in contact

Just a few days before Christmas, the high-speed train operator Eurostar canceled its trains between London, Brussels and Amsterdam from Monday, but kept the trains on the route from London to Paris in operation

EU governments said they would take action to respond to stricter measures UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed on London and its environs on Saturday, and Johnson immediately brought these regions to a new Tier 4 restriction level and the Christmas plans for it Millions turned upside down

Johnson said a fast-moving new variant of the virus that is 70% more transmissible than existing strains appeared to be fueling the rapid spread of new infections in London and southern England but he added, “There is no evidence that it is more deadly or any causes more severe disease “or that vaccines are less effective against it

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Sunday that he had “issued” the flight ban for 24 hours from midnight “as a precautionary measure”

“There are a lot of questions about this new mutation,” he said, hoping to have more clarity by Tuesday

The World Health Organization tweeted late Saturday that it was “in close contact with U” K Officials on the new variant of COVID19 virus “and pledged to update governments and the public as soon as more is learned

The new strain was identified in south-east England in September and has since circulated in the region, a WHO official told the BBC on Sunday

“We understand that portability is increased in terms of ability to spread,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical director for COVID-19

Studies are ongoing to better understand how quickly it is spreading and whether “it is related to the variant itself or a combination of factors to behavior,” she added,

She said the strain had also been identified in Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia where there was one case that did not spread

“The longer this virus spreads, the more opportunities it has to change,” she said. “So we really have to do everything we can to prevent it from spreading, and minimizing that spread makes it less likely to change””

Susan Hopkins of Public Health England said while the variant has been circulating since September, it was only last week that officials felt they had enough evidence to explain that it had higher transmittability than other circulating coronaviruses >

Germany has not yet formulated a ban, but is considering restricting or suspending flights from the USAK The dpa news agency also reported on Sunday

Europe was hit by the spike in new infections and deaths from recurrence of the virus this fall, and many nations have put a number of restrictions in place to rule on their outbreaks

There were over 67 in the UK000 deaths in pandemic, the second highest confirmed number in Europe after Italy, Europe as a whole has nearly 499, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, which experts believe to be undersized due to limited testing and a lack of cases000 virus deaths recorded

The European Medicines Agency meets on Monday to approve the first COVID-19 vaccine for the 27 nations of the European Union and bring the vaccines to millions of EU citizens closer to the vaccine from German pharmaceutical company BioNTech and American drug maker Pfizer is already used in the US, UK, Canada and other countries

The EMA increased its rating of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine by a week after strong pressure from EU governments, especially Germany Once approved by the EMA, it could start vaccinating citizens as soon as next Sunday

In an urgent address to the nation on Saturday, Johnson closed all non-essential stores, hairdressers, gyms and pools and urged the British to reorganize their vacation plans in Tier 4 areas, including London, indoor mixing is now not a thing allowed more, and only essential travel inside and outside the area allowed. In the rest of England people are only allowed to meet in Christmas bubbles for one day instead of the five scheduled

After he spoke, videos surfaced showing crowds rushing to London’s train stations, apparently storming for locations in the underground with less stringent coronavirus restrictions before the new rules go into effect, Health Secretary Matt Hancock called these scenes “completely irresponsible” “

“We in the government have a responsibility, of course, but each and every one of us, too,” he said. “The plea that I have is that the people will play their role. Because only through action – we all – can we get this under control “

While Hancock insisted that officials acted “very quickly and decisively,” critics said the UK Conservative government should have acted against rising infections and hospitalizations much sooner

“The alarm bells have been ringing for weeks, but the prime minister has decided to ignore them,” said Keir Starmer, chairman of the opposition Labor Party. “It is gross negligence on the part of a prime minister who has been caught behind the curve again”

This Friday Dec 18, 2020, File photo, arriving and departing passengers use the flat escalators at Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Source: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/several-eu-nations-halt-u-k-flights-fearing-virus-variant-1.5239194