Nations ban travel from UK as new Covid-19 strain grows around the world
More than 50 countries have imposed travel restrictions on Britain in a bid to stop the spread of a new, more infectious strain of the coronavirus that has now been found in France and Spain and even as far as Japan.
Several others including Denmark, Lebanon, Germany, Australia and the Netherlands have also reported cases of the new strain of Covid-19, which has sent jitters through already overstretched health services.
From Dec 28, the United States will require passengers flying from Britain to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours before departure, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
The CDC last week said Britain's new Covid-19 variant could already be circulating in the US undetected. Early analysis of the mutated strain suggests it may be as much as 70 percent more transmissible than other circulating strains.
Norway extended its ban on flights from Britain until Dec 29, the health ministry said on Friday.
In France, authorities have reopened borders to Britain but instituted a testing policy, after a snap 48-hour ban.
For now, only French or EU citizens, those with residency rights there or business travelers are allowed to make the crossing from Britain - if they provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test less than three days old.
The easing of restrictions was aimed at allowing French citizens to return home as well as to relieve a massive build-up of freight goods.
Regions from Hong Kong to Canada have also temporarily suspended travel from Britain.
Hong Kong also banned all recent travelers from South Africa - where another Covid-19 strain has been found in some infected people - and extended a mandatory quarantine for most other overseas arrivals to 21 days.
Britain itself has imposed curbs on arrivals from South Africa.
South Africa, meanwhile, pushed back against claims that its strain is more infectious or dangerous than the one from Britain.
While Britain's virus variant has a mutation occurring at a site common with the South African strain, they are "two completely independent lineages," South Africa's Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said.