India temporarily suspended all flights to and from the UK until Dec 31, 2020, due to the rapid spread of a new variant of the coronavirus.
Recently, a new variant of COVID-19 identified as ‘B.1.1.7’ was identified in Britain. It was first detected in September. In November, around a quarter of cases in London were the new variant. This reached nearly two-thirds of cases in mid-December. The new variant appears to be more contagious than the previous variants. Researchers in the UK have found that the virus is spreading quickly in parts of southern England.
According to a BBC report, the new variant can rapidly replace other versions of the virus. The mutations will increase the virus's ability to destroy infected cells in the body.
To curb the spread of this variant, many countries have imposed a travel ban on UK flights, including India. India announced that all flights to the UK would be suspended temporarily from Dec 23 to Dec 31, 2020. Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Minister, declared that the government decided to take all necessary precautions due to the rapid spread of the virus across the UK.
Hardeep also said that airlines operating flights to India from other countries would not board any passengers traveling from the UK to India. Cargo and other flights especially approved by aviation authorities will be exempted from Dec 23 to Dec 31, 2020.
According to an ANI tweet, passengers arriving from the UK before the deadline will undergo a mandatory test for COVID-19 on arrival at any Indian airport. Those found positive on arrival will be sent for seven-day institutional quarantines. Those found negative will be advised to isolate at home or be subjected to medically monitoring by the states and union territory.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.