Covid: Flights shut down as EU discusses UK virus threat

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EU officials are discussing a joint response to a new, more infectious Covid-19 variant in the UK, which has sparked travel bans by many countries. Canada and India joined European states in blocking flights from the UK while Europe-bound train services via the Channel Tunnel have been halted.

The new variant is said to be up to 70% more transmissible, but there is no evidence that it is more deadly. There is also no proof to suggest that it reacts differently to vaccines. Two meetings are taking place in Brussels on Monday – one involving health ministers and another with the EU’s crisis response team. But no decision is expected until Tuesday, when EU ambassadors meet.

A French official told the BBC’s Gavin Lee that they were desperate to reopen the borders “as soon as safely possible”, with one option discussed being the requirement that UK travellers – including lorry drivers – prove they have had a recent negative Covid-19 test.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock earlier said the new variant was “out of control”, while Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands announced they had already detected it.

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