SINGAPORE, 23 December 2020: Governments worldwide are banning flights from the UK until early January at the earliest in an effort to prevent the spread of a contagious new strain of the virus that causes Covid-19.

Belgium and Holland followed by France and Denmark were
among the first countries to ban airline travel from the UK at the weekend. The
list has since expanded fast.

Photo: www.standard.co.uk.

Reuters reported, 21 December, that more countries closed
their borders to Britain over fears of a highly infectious new coronavirus
strain. They included Canada, India, Poland, Switzerland, Russia and Hong Kong.

It is causing travel chaos and raising the prospect of UK
food shortages just days before the country completes its exit from the
European Union.

 The UK is working with international partners, including the World Health Organisation, to better understand this variant but early science suggested the new variant was 70% more transmissible than other strains of Sars-Cov-2.

Viruses mutate regularly, and scientists have found
thousands of different mutations among samples of the virus causing Covid-19.
Many of these changes have no effect on how easily the virus spreads or the
severity of symptoms.

Governments concede that it will take several months before
the pandemic is contained, especially as the vaccine doses commercially
available remain far too small.

Meanwhile, London and other areas in the Southeast entered
Tier 4 restrictions 20 December. Non-essential retail, gyms and personal care
services are closed. Restaurants, pubs and bars also remain closed. You can
only meet one person from another household in an outdoor, public space, and
overnight stays away from home aren’t permitted.

Those in Tier 4 areas are not permitted to mix with anyone
outside their own household at Christmas, unless in a support bubble.

Across the rest of England, up to three households can still
meet, but this will be limited to Christmas Day only. Scotland has issued a
travel ban between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.