Covid-19: Italy bans UK flights over new coronavirus strain fears

Italy joins Austria, Belgium and Netherlands in banning UK flights.

Italy has banned air travel from the UK, until 6 January 2021, due to concerns over the new strain of coronavirus, the foreign ministry announced this afternoon.

The ban on UK flights follows similar measures announced by authorities in Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Plans to suspend air travel with the UK are also reportedly being considered by France, Germany and Ireland, according to Sky News.

Eurostar has announced that it is still operating trains to Paris but there will be no trains running between London, Brussels and Amsterdam on Monday 21 December. However the situation is evolving and passengers are advised to check the Eurostar website for travel updates.

The potent new variant of coronavirus discovered in the UK has also been identified in Denmark and Australia, as well as in the Netherlands, the WHO told the BBC.

Britain's health secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News that the new mutated form of the coronavirus is "out of control," adding that "cases have absolutely rocketed."

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is in "close contact" with UK health officials over the emergence of the new coronavirus strain, which is not believed to be more deadly, reports the BBC.

"As a government we have a duty to protect the Italians, for this reason, after having notified the British government, with the Ministry of Health we are about to sign the order to suspend flights with Great Britain," wrote Italy's foreign minister Luigi Di Maio on Twitter.

Photo credit: jgolby / Shutterstock.com