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India becomes latest country to suspend all travel to UK as fears of new coronavirus variant intensifies

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Due to the volume of flights between the two countries India's decision to suspend all travel is a fresh blow to British prestige

India has become the latest country to suspend all travel to the UK effective from December 23-30 due to mounting concerns about the potency of a new variant of Covid-19. 

Indian health minister,  Rajesh Bhushan, cited specific concerns about the new strain which is “spreading and growing rapidly in the UK” and reportedly has “an unusually large number of genetic changes, particularly in the spike protein”

Meanwhile, civil aviation minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, tweeted that passengers from the UK "should be subject to mandatory RT-PCR test on arrival" at the respective airports.

India and the UK are connected by several airlines including Air India, Vistara, British Airways, and Virgin Atlantic which connect London and other British hubs to major Indian airports including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Amritsar.

Apart from India, a growing list of  countries including Canada, Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Italy have temporarily halted flights to the UK.

According to the reports, the new “out of control” coronavirus variant is up to 70% more transmissible, however it is not believed to more deadly.

The crisis spurred by the new virus strain is compounded by the prospect of a no trade deal Brexit, thus presenting the British government with a perfect storm of major problems. 

To that end, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be chairing a meeting of the government's emergency committee (Cobra) later on Monday (December 21) in order to contain the crisis.

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