New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: India on Monday announced suspending all flight coming from the United Kingdom from December 23 to December 31. The decision comes amid the new virus strain reported in the UK which is believed to be 70 per cent more infectious.

"Considering the prevailing situation in the UK, Indian govt has decided that all flights originating from the UK to India shall be temporarily suspended till 11:59 pm, 31st December. This suspension to start w.e.f. 11.59 pm, 22nd December," the Ministry of Civil Aviation said in a statement. 

India, so far, remains in the travel bubble with the UK, with strict testing and self-isolation rules in place. But with most of Britain now in the strictest Tier 4 lockdown, all non-essential travel remains banned for the majority.

Several European countries including France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Bulgaria, the Irish Republic, Turkey and Canada have already closed its borders amid growing concerns of an "out of control" new variant of coronavirus spreading at a much faster pace in parts of England.  

Other countries and territories to announce restrictions on UK travel include Hong Kong, Israel, Iran, Croatia, Argentina, Chile, Morocco and Kuwait.

It is thought the variant either emerged in a patient in the UK or has been imported from a country with a lower ability to monitor coronavirus mutations.

The variant can be found across the UK, except Northern Ireland, but it is heavily concentrated in London, the South East and eastern England. Cases elsewhere in the country do not seem to have shot up in a similar way so far.

The government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) estimates the variant could increase the R number – or rate of infection – by between 0.4 and 0.9. The R number is how many other people one person will infect on average and an epidemic is in effect if it rises above one.

Fears of the new variant meant that over 21 million people in England and Wales who entered new restrictions at midnight are being told to stay at home, while non-essential shops and businesses have to close.

Those living under the newly-created Tier 4 restrictions in England will now be unable to mix with other households indoors at Christmas, unless they are part of their existing support bubble.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta