The Dutch government on Sunday banned all passenger flights from Britain after finding the first case of a new, more infectious coronavirus strain that is circulating in the UK.
The ban, from 6 am (0500 GMT) on Sunday until January 1, came hours after Britain announced a stay-at-home order for part of the country to slow the spread of the new variant.
“An infectious mutation of the Covid-19 virus is circulating in the United Kingdom. It is said to spread more easily and faster and is more difficult to detect,” the Dutch health ministry said in a statement.
The Dutch public health body, the RIVM, therefore “recommends that any introduction of this virus strain from the United Kingdom be limited as much as possible by limiting and/or controlling passenger movements.”
The health ministry said a “case study in the Netherlands at the beginning of December revealed a virus with the variant described in the United Kingdom.”
Experts were looking at how the infection happened and whether there were related cases.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s cabinet has now taken the “precautionary decision” to ban flights from Britain, the statement said.
Eurostar said service would be interrupted from London to Amsterdam and Brussels starting Monday, while ferry company Stena Line has announced a cutback.
“We stopped taking reservations last night after the Dutch government announced a ban on flights from Britain,” Stena spokesman Simon Palmer told AFP.
Previous bookings for the journey from Harwich, England, to Hoek van Holland will be honoured, he said.
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Rutte urged Dutch citizens not to travel unless strictly necessary.
“Over the next few days, together with other EU member states, (the government) will explore the scope for further limiting the risk of the new strain of the virus being brought over from the UK,” the statement said.
The Netherlands is under a five-week lockdown until mid-January with schools and all non-essential shops closed to slow a surge in the virus.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said early data suggests the virus circulating in London and southeast England is up to 70 percent more transmissible.
Vanguard News Nigeria
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