Countries suspend air traffic with UK
Moscow, Dec 21: The World Health Organization (WHO) advises countries to independently assess the risk of spillover of the new strain of coronavirus and make decisions on whether to suspend air traffic, WHO representative to Russia, Melita Vujnovic said on Monday.
Last week, the UK government announced that the mutated coronavirus strain that can transmit up to 70-percent faster has been actively spreading in London and surrounding areas. Dozens of countries have already suspended air traffic with the United Kingdom.
“At this point, the World Health Organization has not recommended any time frames or anything else [regarding border closures or air traffic suspension]. The WHO has recommended [countries] to analyze the risk of importing the infection and proceeding from this make individual, national decisions,” Vujnovic told Rossiya 24 broadcaster.
The same contagious mutation of the virus has also been detected in several other European countries, Australia and South Africa.
Meanwhile, countries in the European Union and beyond began suspending travel with the United Kingdom on Sunday due to risks associated with the discovery of a new coronavirus strain there.
Italy, where the mutated strain has already been detected in a returnee from the United Kingdom, has suspended all arrivals from UK airports and banned entry of persons with travel history in the UK over the past two weeks.
Estonia will suspend air traffic with the United Kingdom by the year-end, as announced by Prime Minister Juri Ratas.
Cyprus introduced new quarantine measures, coming into force on Monday, requiring passengers arriving from the UK to self-isolate for 14 days or 10 days if they test negative for COVID-19.
Spain said that it was going to strengthen passenger monitoring at airports and ports in what concerns coronavirus test results. Currently, all people arriving in Spain from countries with high COVID-19 infection rates must present negative coronavirus test results, obtained no earlier than 72 hours prior to arrival.
Sweden is expected to announce an official ban on UK arrivals on Monday, Swedish broadcaster SVT reported, citing Home Affairs Minister Mikael Damberg.