India suspends flights from UK till Dec 31 due to Covid

India suspends flights from UK till Dec 31 due to new coronavirus strain

Passengers arriving from Britain on transit flights will be subject to a mandatory RT-PCR test on arrival

Representative image. Credit: iStock.

 India on Monday announced suspension of all flights originating from the United Kingdom from Tuesday midnight till December 31 amid concerns of emergence of a new coronavirus strain in that country.

“Considering the prevailing situation in the UK, the Government of India has decided that all flights originating from the UK to India will be suspended till 31st December 2020 (23.59 hours),” the ministry of Civil Aviation said.

It said the suspension of flights will come into effect from 23:59 hours on December 22, 2020, the ministry said.

The ministry said as a measure of abundant precaution, passengers arriving from the UK in all transit flights – that have taken off or reaching India before December 22, 23.59 hrs – should be subject to mandatory RT-PCR test on arrival at the airports concerned.

Earlier, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had demanded a ban on all flights from the UK immediately amid concerns of a mutated variant of coronavirus there.

Several European countries – France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Italy – have banned flights from the UK with the British government warning that the potent new strain of the virus was “out of control” and imposing a stringent new stay-at-home lockdown from Sunday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week said a fast-moving new variant of the virus that is 70 per cent more transmissible than existing strains appeared to be driving the rapid spread of new infections in London and southern England in recent weeks.

But Johnson stressed “there was no evidence to suggest it is more lethal or causes more severe illness,” or that vaccines will be less effective against it.