Italy has patient with new COVID strain, nations ban UK flights

Germany, the Netherlands and Kuwait among nations that announce halting of flights to and from the UK.

Medical staff members test for COVID-19 passengers arriving at the Palermo harbor, Sicily, southern Italy, Tuesday, December 15, 2020 [Francesco Militello Mirto/LaPresse/AP]

Italy has found a patient with the new coronavirus strain, that was also found, in Britain, the health ministry announced on Sunday.

Several European countries and others, such as Kuwait, have banned flights to and from the United Kingdom, in hopes of blocking the new strain which is sweeping across southern England from establishing a strong foothold on the continent.

The new coronavirus strain is “out of control,” British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told the BBC News.

Globally, the number of coronavirus infection crosses 76 million, with nearly 1.7 million deaths recorded. More than 43 million have recovered.

Here are all the latest updates:

Sydney suburbs in lockdown after COVID outbreak

Authorities in Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) have put about a quarter of a million people in Sydney’s northern beach suburbs into a strict lockdown and restricted gatherings across the rest of the city in a bid to contain a growing coronavirus outbreak.

NSW, which incorporates Sydney, recorded 30 new COVID-19 cases, taking a cluster that emerged in Sydney’s northern beaches area to 70, with some cases still under investigation.

Read more here.

Chile says vaccinations could start next week

Doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc could start being deployed in Chile as early as next week, with the first round of injections going to health care workers, President Sebastian Pinera said.

The Chilean health regulator reported on Wednesday that it had approved emergency use of the vaccine. That same day Pinera said that the laboratory had confirmed that it would send the first 20,000 doses before the end of the month.

Turkey suspends some flights over coronavirus mutation

Turkey temporarily suspended flights from Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark and South Africa over the new strain of coronavirus, the health minister said.

“With the instruction of our President and with the coordination of our Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, a temporary suspension has been decided for flights from England, Denmark, the Netherlands and South Africa to our country,” Fahrettin Koca announced on Twitter.

Iran suspends flights to UK over coronavirus concerns

Iran suspended flights to Britain for two weeks due to the new coronavirus strain, state news agency IRNA reported.

“Due to the new circumstances in the spread of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom, flights between Tehran and destinations in the UK will be suspended for two weeks,” IRNA quoted Shahram Adamnejad, a deputy transport minister, as saying.

Iran is one of the worst affected nations from coronavirus in the Middle East [File: West Asia News Agency/Reuters]


Quebec opposition party asks Canada’s Trudeau to halt UK flights

An opposition party in Canada is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to suspend all flights and passengers seeking to enter the country from the UK.

Bloc Quebecois party leader Yves-Francois Blanchet expressed solidarity with people in the UK in a statement on Sunday, but said the measure is “preventative and necessary” to prevent any potential spread of the new variant of COVID-19.

“Caution is in the best interests” of people in Quebec and Canada, Blanchet said.

“If a variant of COVID-19 were to spread with increased speed among vulnerable people, the effects could be deplorable for peoples’ health, as well as for the healthcare system and workers that are already under tremendous pressure.”

Italy patient infected with new strain: health ministry

The Italian health ministry announced it has found a patient with the new coronavirus strain, that was also found, in Britain.

The patient and his partner returned from the United Kingdom in the last few days with a flight that landed at Rome’s Fiumicino airport and were now in isolation, the ministry said.

Britain’s European neighbours began closing their doors to travellers from the United Kingdom on Sunday amid alarm about the rapidly spreading strain of coronavirus that has caused cases to soar there

Vaccines effective against new virus strain: German health minister

European Union experts believe existing vaccines against coronavirus are effective against the new fast-spreading strain identified in Britain, Germany’s health minister said.

“According to everything we know so far” the new strain “has no impact on the vaccines”, which remain “just as effective”, Jens Spahn told public broadcaster ZDF, citing “talks between experts at European authorities”.

France to halt all travel from UK for 48 hours from midnight

France will halt all travel from Britain for 48 hours from midnight Sunday including journeys “related to goods transport by road, air, sea or rail”, the prime minister’s office said, after a new fast-spreading strain of coronavirus appeared in the UK.

While companies are scrambling to shift merchandise across the Channel with days to go until Britain finally quits EU trade structures, “only unaccompanied freight will be authorised.

Flows of people or goods towards the UK will not be affected”, the government added after a meeting chaired by President Emmanuel Macron.

The decision from France follows a series of similar steps taken by other European countries earlier on Sunday [File: Christian Hartmann

Kuwait halts UK flights

Kuwait’s civil aviation authorities have banned flights from the UK, where a new variant of the coronavirus is spreading, state-run Kuna news agency reports.

“Upon instructions from health authorities, the United Kingdom has been added to a high-risk list of countries from which flights to Kuwait are banned,” the Gulf state’s Directorate of Civil Aviation said on Twitter.

Denmark to dig up millions of minks from mass graves

Millions of minks will be dug up from mass graves in Denmark after some had resurfaced, prompting complaints from residents about possible health risks, the country’s government said.

Denmark’s entire herd of some 17 million minks destined for the high-end fashion industry was ordered to be culled in early November after hundreds of farms suffered outbreaks of coronavirus and authorities found mutated strains of the virus among people.

Minks are seen at Hans Henrik Jeppesen’s farm near Soroe, Denmark [File: Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen/Reuters]

Several EU nations halt UK flights, fearing virus variant

A growing list of European Union nations have announced banning flights from the UK, while others were considering similar action, in a bid to block a new strain of coronavirus sweeping across southern England.

Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Italy all announced restrictions on UK travel, hours after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that Christmas shopping and gatherings in southern England must be cancelled because of rapidly spreading infections blamed on the new coronavirus variant.

Johnson immediately put those regions into a strict new Tier 4 restriction level, upending Christmas plans for millions.

Read the full story here.

Hello, this is Usaid Siddiqui in Toronto, Canada with all the latest coronavirus updates.


Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies