China suspends flights to and from UK in wake of new virus strain
Taking into account the practices of other countries, China on Thursday announced the suspension of flights to and from the UK due to the discovery of new virus strain, said the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
“Considering the specific nature of the virus and its possible impact, in order to protect the health of Chinese and foreign personnel, China has suspended flights to and from the UK after a full assessment and taking into account the practices of other countries,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin announced during Thursday’s routine press conference.
A variation of the novel coronavirus was recently discovered in the UK and the World Health Organization has been notified. Several countries have announced measures such as closing borders, grounding flights and banning flights from the UK.
Wang said that China will closely follow the situation and will adjust relevant control measures according to the situation.
Due to pandemic prevention reasons, the Chinese Visa Application Service Center in London suspended operations from Tuesday.
China’s Sichuan Airlines suspended flights on a UK-China route with a stopover in a third country from Wednesday, reports said.
China Southern Airlines also said on Wednesday that it will suspend round trips between Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong Province and London for two weeks due to COVID-19 control measures. It is the first airline in the Chinese mainland to make such a move.
So far, more than 40 countries and regions have suspended flights from the UK or imposed stricter entry protocols on arrivals from the UK, as the new variant was found up to 70 percent more transmissible.
As the new variant has swept across the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on December 19 a Tier-4 lockdown of London and large parts of southern and eastern England, the toughest restrictions which prohibit travel and gatherings.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato announced at a press conference on Wednesday that Japan is suspending the entry of travelers from the UK, except for Japanese nationals, due to the surge in confirmed cases caused by the new variant.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced at a press conference on Wednesday that Canada will extend its ban on flights from the UK until January 6.