Netherlands, Belgium ban UK flights over new, more infectious COVID strain

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Netherlands, Belgium ban UK flights over new, more infectious COVID strain

The Dutch government has put a stop to all passenger flights entering from the UK after finding a case in the Netherlands of a new coronavirus strain that has been circulating around Britain.

The ban, which started at 6 a.m. Sunday and lasts until at least January 1, came just hours after Britain announced a stay-at-home order for the south of England, including London, to slow the more infectious variant.

The Dutch public health body, the RIVM, said it “recommends that any introduction of this virus strain from the United Kingdom be limited as much as possible by limiting and/or controlling passenger movements.”

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Cabinet said that other forms of transport were still under review.

On Sunday, Belgium also banned flights and trains from the UK for the same reason, the AFP news agency reported.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said he was issuing the order for 24 hours starting at midnight “out of precaution.”

“There are a great many questions about this new mutation and whether it is not already on the [European] mainland,” he said.

Germany, meanwhile, is considering its own ban, a Health Ministry source told AFP.

The source said the measure is a “serious option” and that developments in the UK are being monitored very closely.

The newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported that ministers were drawing up a new regulation for the cabinet to approve.

The measure would also include a ban on flights to South Africa, where the new strain has also been discovered.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed it is in close contact with British officials over the new variant.

“They’ll continue to share info & results of their analysis & ongoing studies. We’ll update Member States & public as we learn more about the characteristics of this virus variant & any implications,” the WHO tweeted.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said early scientific data suggests the new coronavirus strain is up to 70% more infectious.