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

Covid: EU to discuss response to variant as travel bans on UK expand

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

picture copyrightPA Media

picture captionNumerous nations have launched journey bans amid issues over the brand new coronavirus variant

European Union officers will talk about later a co-ordinated response to a brand new, extra infectious coronavirus variant within the UK, which has led many nations 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 be blocking UK flights.

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

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There can be no proof to recommend that it reacts in another way to vaccines.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated the brand new variant was “getting out of control”, whereas Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands introduced that they had already detected it.

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

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

The European Medicines Agency (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 provides the inexperienced gentle, official approval from the European Commission is anticipated to comply with on Wednesday and vaccine distribution might start in some EU states as early as Sunday.

Which nations 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. Thousands of lorries transfer between the nations day by day.

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

The ferry terminal at Dover is now closed for all accompanied visitors leaving the UK till additional discover due to the French restrictions. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a Cobra emergency response assembly to debate the problem on Monday.

Other nations 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 “at the latest”. Ferry passengers arriving from the UK can even be barred, though freight will proceed
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picture captionOutbound prepare companies by means of the Channel Tunnel – together with the Eurostar – have been halted
  • In the Republic of Ireland, flights arriving from Britain are banned for 48 hours at the least from midnight on Sunday and folks have been requested to not “travel to Ireland, 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
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  • Belgium halted flights and trains from the UK from midnight for at the 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 could be “subject to secondary screening and enhanced measures, including increased scrutiny of quarantine plans”, it stated.
  • 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 new variant was first detected in September. In November it made up round 1 / 4 of instances in London. This reached practically two-thirds of instances in mid-December.

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

  • It is quickly changing different variations of the virus
  • It has mutations that have an effect on a part of the virus more likely to be necessary
  • Some 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. However, we should not have absolute certainty. New strains can change into extra frequent just by being in the best place on the proper time – similar to London.

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

There is not any proof but to recommend the variant makes the an infection extra lethal, and at the least for now the developed vaccines will virtually actually work towards it.

However, if the virus adjustments so it dodges the total impact of the vaccine, then “vaccine escape” occurs, and this can be probably the most regarding factor.

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