India is likely to extend the ban on flights from Britain in a bid to contain the spread of a new strain of coronavirus, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Tuesday.
“I foresee a slight extension of the temporary suspension. I don’t expect that extension to be a long or indefinite extension. In the next day or two, we will find out if any additional steps need to be taken, or when we can start easing the current temporary suspension,” Hardeep Singh Puri said.
India had suspended all flights from Britain last week until the end of the month as the new variant of the virus detected in the United Kingdom triggered widespread concern and travel restrictions across the world.
“Considering the prevailing situation in the UK, the government of India has decided that all flights originating from the UK to India shall be temporarily suspended till December 31, 2020 (11.59pm). This suspension will start from 11.59pm, December 22, 2020,” the ministry had announced.
The Union health ministry said on Tuesday all international passengers who have arrived in India during the last 14 days – from December 9 to December 22 this year, if symptomatic and tested positive for the coronavirus disease will have to undergo genome sequencing.
The variant of the coronavirus, which could be up to 70% more transmissible, is spreading rapidly in Britain and is not thought to be more deadly or to cause more serious illness, according to prime minister Boris Johnson and his board of scientific advisors.
Governments around the world are also taking action as a fast-spreading variant sweeps through South Africa, with the UK banning flights from that country. Hong Kong banned all recent travellers from South Africa and extended a mandatory quarantine for most other visitors in an attempt to prevent a spread of Covid-19 cases in the city.