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.
In the interim, it has been decided that passengers arriving from UK on all international flights (flights in transit) should be subjected to mandatory RT PCR tests on arrival.— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) December 21, 2020
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.