Covid: EU to debate response to variant as journey bans on UK increase

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Passengers queue for check-in at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex.

picture copyrightPA Media

picture captionQuite a few international locations have launched journey bans amid issues over the brand new coronavirus variant

European Union officers will focus on later a co-ordinated response to a brand new, extra infectious coronavirus variant within the UK, which has led many international locations to impose journey bans.

Germany, France and Italy are amongst these to droop flights from the UK. Outbound prepare companies by means of the Channel Tunnel have additionally been halted.

Canada can also be blocking UK flights.

Well being officers say the brand new variant is as much as 70% extra transmissible, however there isn’t a proof that it’s extra lethal.

There may be additionally no proof to recommend that it reacts in a different way to vaccines.

UK Well being Secretary Matt Hancock mentioned the brand new variant was “getting uncontrolled”, whereas Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands introduced that they had already detected it.

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The European Council assembly of presidency representatives is predicted to happen at 10:00 GMT. The pace at which governments have introduced their bans on travellers from the UK exhibits the dimensions of the alarm, the BBC’s Gavin Lee in Brussels experiences.

Additionally on Monday, the EU’s medicines regulator is predicted to suggest approving the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to be used in all 27 states.

The European Medicines Company (EMA) is assembly every week early to determine on the vaccine which is already being administered within the UK and within the US.

If it offers the inexperienced mild, official approval from the European Fee is predicted to observe on Wednesday and vaccine distribution might start in some EU states as early as Sunday.

Which international locations have acted and the way?

France suspended all journey hyperlinks, together with freight lorries, with the UK for 48 hours from midnight (23:00 GMT) on Sunday. 1000’s of lorries transfer between the international locations day by day.

Eurotunnel mentioned it will droop entry to its Folkestone terminal for site visitors heading to Calais. Individuals booked to journey on Monday can get a refund. Trains will nonetheless run from Calais to Folkestone.

Different international locations took completely different motion in response to the brand new virus variant:

  • Denmark suspended flights from the UK for 48 hours starting at 09:00 GMT on Monday.
  • The Netherlands is banning all passenger flights from the UK till 1 January “on the newest”. Ferry passengers arriving from the UK will even be barred, though freight will proceed
picture copyrightGetty Photographs
picture captionOutbound prepare companies by means of the Channel Tunnel – together with the Eurostar – have been halted
  • Within the Republic of Eire, flights arriving from Britain are banned for 48 hours at the very least from midnight on Sunday and other people have been requested to not “journey to Eire, by air or sea”. Ferry crossings for freight will proceed
  • In Germany, planes from the UK haven’t been allowed to land since midnight on Sunday, though cargo is exempt
media captionAre you able to turn out to be resistant to coronavirus?
  • Belgium halted flights and trains from the UK from midnight for at the very least 24 hours
  • Italy has blocked all flights from the UK till 6 January
  • Turkey has quickly banned all flights from the UK as has Switzerland
  • Austria will ban flights from the UK from 23:00 GMT on Monday and anybody arriving within the nation earlier than that time should quarantine for 10 days
  • Bulgaria has suspended flights to and from the UK from midnight with the ban to proceed till 31 January
  • Canada has suspended entry of all passenger flights from the UK for 72 hours, efficient from midnight (05:00 GMT). Passengers who arrived in Canada from the UK on Sunday can be “topic to secondary screening and enhanced measures, together with elevated scrutiny of quarantine plans”, it mentioned.
  • Hong Kong, Israel, Iran, Croatia, Argentina, Chile, Morocco and Kuwait introduced in restrictions on UK journey
  • Saudi Arabia has suspended all worldwide flights for one week due to the pandemic

What do we all know concerning the new variant?

The brand new variant was first detected in September. In November it made up round 1 / 4 of circumstances in London. This reached practically two-thirds of circumstances in mid-December.

Three issues are coming collectively that imply it’s attracting consideration:

  • It’s quickly changing different variations of the virus
  • It has mutations that have an effect on a part of the virus prone to be essential
  • A few of these mutations have already been proven within the lab to extend the power of the virus to contaminate cells

All of those come collectively to construct a case for a virus that may unfold extra simply. Nevertheless, we do not need absolute certainty. New strains can turn out to be extra frequent just by being in the suitable place on the proper time – reminiscent of London.

This variant is unusually extremely mutated. The most definitely clarification is it emerged in a affected person with a weakened immune system that was unable to beat the virus.

There isn’t any proof but to recommend the variant makes the an infection extra lethal, and at the very least for now the developed vaccines will virtually actually work in opposition to it.

Nevertheless, if the virus modifications so it dodges the complete impact of the vaccine, then “vaccine escape” occurs, and this can be essentially the most regarding factor.

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