A hyper-contagious viral mutation in the UK is causing EU countries to cut flight connections, including Austria. The virus is “out of control,” Britain admits.
The variant of the coronavirus discovered in the UK is causing great concern to authorities in the UK, but increasingly also in EU countries. Austria will also ban planes coming from the United Kingdom from landing. The health and foreign ministries confirmed this on Sunday.
“This variant virus is out of control and we need to get it back under control,” British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC on Sunday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said initial findings suggest the mutation is “up to 70 percent more contagious” than the previously common form of the coronavirus.However, he said there is no evidence that the variant causes more severe courses of disease or a higher mortality rate. In addition, the authorities have so far assumed that vaccines are also effective against the mutation.
Concerns about health care system
Secretary Hancock said he is very concerned about the health care system. Currently, he said, there are more than 18,000 infected people in hospitals, almost as many as at the peak of the first wave of infection in the spring. “That’s another reason why everyone needs to comply with the new rules and take personal responsibility,” he said. Hancock told the Sky News channel that everyone must act as if they were infected with Corona. “That’s the only way we’re going to get this virus under control.”
Curfews will last “for months to come”
Because of the rapid spread of the new variant of the virus, a new shutdown with widespread curfews has been in effect in London and other areas in southeast England since Sunday, including for Christmas. It’s not impossible that the tougher measures will have to remain in place for months until widespread vaccination can be carried out, Hancock said.
The Austrian Health Ministry is also working on a ban, it announced Sunday. Italy also wants to ban flights from the British Isles. A case has reportedly already surfaced in Italy. Outside the U.K., 11 cases of the virus mutation had previously been reported – nine in Denmark and one each in the Netherlands and Australia.
However, virologists are registering skepticism as to whether the mutation is actually as much more contagious as British politicians claim.
Schallenberg already informed GB
Politicians, on the other hand, are cautious. Austria will also issue a landing ban. A corresponding Austrian regulation would come into force on December 22 (Tuesday) at 00:00 and end at the end of January 1, 2021. “Rapid measures are the order of the day in this dangerous situation,” let Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) know. “We must prevent by all means that this dangerous viral mutation is introduced to us,” Schallenberg argued in a statement to APA. “We have already informed Great Britain that we must take this drastic measure to protect our population. The mutation shows the great danger that continues to be posed by this virus.”
There are strict requirements, the Ministry of Health stressed: the UK is considered a state with an increased risk of infection, which is why there is a quarantine requirement for those entering the country. A free test from the ten-day quarantine is possible at the earliest after the fifth day.
More and more EU countries cut off connection to UK
Many European countries are now alarmed. They are trying to prevent this contagious virus variant from spreading to the continent. Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden announced a cap on flights and sometimes even other transport links. Poland is also suspending flights from the United Kingdom. Germany plans to restrict travel to the UK as well as South Africa, as does Switzerland. Landings from the U.K. are banned from midnight, according to an order issued Sunday by the German Transport Ministry.
Numerous non-European countries also suspended flights to Britain, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Canada, Argentina and Chile. In the U.S., however, no measures were initially announced on travel with Britain. Admiral Brett Giroir, who is in charge of the government’s Corona testing program, said on the ABC TV network that he does not consider the suspension of air travel with Britain necessary at this time.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, president of the European Council, discussed the new Corona situation in England in a phone call.
On Monday, EU ambassadors from the 27 member states will meet in Brussels for a crisis meeting. According to an EU representative, they want to discuss, among other things, flight bans and a mandatory test for travelers from Great Britain.
- hp, with reports from kurier.at/picture: pixabay.com
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