Norway bans flights from UK over new Covid-19 strain

Norway bans flights from UK over new Covid-19 strain
File photo: AFP
All passenger flights from the United Kingdom to Norway have been temporarily suspended with immediate effect due to the discovery of a faster-spreading variant of Covid-19.

The measure is effective for an initial two days but can be extended, NRK reports.

A number of other restrictions are to be placed on travellers arriving in Norway from the UK.

Health minister Bent Høie said that authorities in the Nordic countries have begun contacting persons who have travelled to Norway from the UK during the last 14 days. SMS messages have been sent to relevant persons, according to the minister.

“People who do not follow the new rules can be sanctioned under the law. It is extremely important that people who arrived from the United Kingdom in the last 14 days get a (Covid-19) test and comply with these rules,” Høie said.

READ ALSO: These are Norway's new rules for recent arrivals from the UK

Høie and the government confirmed in a statement that Norway will halt air arrivals from the UK for two days as of this morning.

“We must be sure that the virus variant detected in the United Kingdom spreads as little as possible to Norway. We are therefore now stopping direct flights from the United Kingdom and increasing measures for travellers from the area. This is in keeping with advice we have received from the Norwegian Directorate of Health,” Høie said.

Two flights from London to Oslo and flights from Aberdeen to Bergen and Stavanger have been blocked so far today, according to NRK.

The new variant of the coronavirus is believed to have first appeared in the London and Kent areas of the UK in September, and is reported to be up to 70 percent more contagious than other strains. But based on what scientists know so far, the variant does not appear to cause more serious illness than other kinds of coronavirus.

The variant was cited by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the reason behind last-minute changes to health restrictions in London and South East England, announced on Saturday, which have seen thousands of people unable to travel as planned over Christmas.

Following the UK's announcement on Saturday, the Dutch government announced on Sunday morning that it was banning all flights from the UK until January 1st.

The Belgian, Bulgarian and Italian governments followed suit, with Italy banning all flights from the UK and the entry of anyone who had been in the UK in the last 14 days. France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Ireland have also announced they will suspend UK flights.


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