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Iran extends ban on UK flights until March 10

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)
Iran renews a ban on UK flights amid increased infections involving a mutated for of the coronavirus.

Iran has extended a ban on flights to and from the United Kingdom for another three weeks amid reports that more Iranians have been infected by a variant of the coronavirus that was first spotted in England in December.

A spokesman of Iran’s civil aviation authority said on Wednesday that the ban might be renewed for a fourth time in early March if the number of infections related to the mutated form of the virus surge in Iran.

“Given that we face the onset of the peak of the English coronavirus (infections), it would be highly possible that the travel ban to the UK will be extended again on March 10,” said Mohammad Hassan Zibakhsh.

The ban on UK flights was first enacted in late December when reports showed that a more infectious variant of the coronavirus had been detected in the island nation.

Iranian authorities say passengers arriving in Iran from the UK via other countries are deported.

However, that comes as Iranian health minister warned earlier this week a fourth wave of the disease involving the new variant of the virus would swiftly spread across Iran if current restrictions on gatherings and movement are eased in the run up to the Persian New Year on March 21.

Health authorities in the southwestern province of Khuzestan confirmed on Wednesday that the UK vairus variant had started circulating in three cities of Shadegan, Abadan and Khorramshahr.

Iran has been grappling with one of the largest outbreaks of the coronavirus in the Middle East with a total of 1,542,076 infections and 59,184 deaths reported until noon local time on Wednesday.

The number of people vaccinated against the virus as part of a newly-launched nationwide inoculation program exceeded 10,000 on Wednesday.

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