England has banned travel from South Africa after two cases of a new “more transmissible” COVID-19 variant linked to the country were found in the UK.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned the “highly concerning” new variant is believed to be more transmissible than the mutant strain that resulted in the creation of the new Tier 4 restrictions.
The two cases are contacts of people who travelled from South Africa over the last few weeks, Mr Hancock said at a Downing Street news conference.
Those with the new variant, and contacts of them, are quarantining.
From 9am on Thursday, people arriving in England who have been in or transited through South Africa in the previous 10 days will not be permitted entry.
Direct flights from the country will be banned, with cargo and freight exempt.
British and Irish nationals, visa holders and permanent residents will be able to enter the country, but will have to self-isolate for 10 days afterwards along with their household.
Countries around the world have in recent days closed their borders to both Britain and South Africa following the identification of the new, fast-spreading variants of the coronavirus.
Main Photo: Passengers walk through the main terminal at the OR Thambo International airport, Johannesburg, South Africa, EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK
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