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India halts flights to and from UK from tomorrow midnight till December 31 over new strain of coronavirus

‘As a measure of abundant precaution, passengers arriving from UK in all transit flights should be subject to mandatory RT-PCR test on arrival at airports,’ Ministry of Civil Aviation said.

SNS | New Delhi |

Amid the increasing spread of a new strain of coronavirus from the United Kingdom, the Indian government has decided to halt flights to and from the UK from tomorrow midnight till December 31.

“Considering the prevailing situation in the UK, Indian govt has decided that all flights originating from the UK to India shall be temporarily suspended till 11:59 pm, 31st December. This suspension to start w.e.f. 11.59 pm, 22nd December,” Ministry of Civil Aviation said.

“As a measure of abundant precaution, passengers arriving from UK in all transit flights (flights that have taken off or flights which are reaching India before 22nd Dec at 11.59 pm) should be subject to mandatory RT-PCR test on arrival at airports,” it added.

Earlier in the day, assuring the country to not to worry over the new strain of coronavirus reported in the United Kingdom, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that “there’s no need to panic”.

While addressing the reporters at the India Science Festival, Minister said, “At this time, I would say, don’t get hassled with imaginary situations, imaginary talks and imaginary panic. The government is fully alert. In the last one year, as you all have seen, we took all necessary measures to ensure the safety of people. If you ask me, there’s no reason to panic so much.”

Minister’s remarks came shortly after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged the central government in a tweet to ban all flights coming from UK.

“New mutation of corona virus has emerged in UK, which is a super-spreader. I urge central government to ban all flights from UK immediately,” he said.

The Health Ministry has called a meeting today of its joint monitoring group on COVID-19 to discuss the crisis.

Amid the reports of the spread of the virus, many European countries have banned flights to and from Britain.

Britain has warned this new strain of coronavirus was “out of control”, and imposed a stringent new stay-at-home lockdown from Sunday.

Yesterday, Saudi Arabia halted international flights and suspended entry through its land and sea ports for at least a week, after a new fast-spreading strain of coronavirus appeared in Britain.

The kingdom is “temporarily suspending all international flights — except in exceptional cases — for a period of one week, which can be extended by another week,” the official Saudi Press Agency said.

“Entry to the kingdom through land and sea ports will also be suspended for a week, which can be extended by another week,” SPA added, citing the interior ministry.