The UK is banning travel from most of South America over a new coronavirus variant found in Brazil

Joseph Okpako/GettyPassengers in face masks at London Heathrow Airport.
  • The UK government is banning all arrivals from South America over a new coronavirus variant that originated in Brazil.
  • The affected countries are Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
  • The island country of Cape Verde is also on the list. The UK is also suspending travel from Portugal as it has strong travel links to Brazil.
  • The measures come into effect at 4 a.m. GMT on January 15.
  • Britain is currently struggling with COVID-19, with the number of hospitalized patients higher than it has ever been in the pandemic.
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The UK government is banning direct flights from all of South America, citing concerns of a new coronavirus variant that originated in Brazil.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Thursday that Britain would ban arrivals from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

The UK has also banned arrivals from Cape Verde, the Atlantic island country, and suspended travel from Portugal, which has strong links to Brazil, Shapps said.

He added, however, that there would be an exemption for vehicles from Portugal to allow essential goods to enter the UK.

The measures will come into effect at 4 a.m. GMT on Friday.

Shapps added that British and Irish nationals and residents would still be able to enter the UK, but they must self-isolate for ten days upon arrival.

It is typical for viruses to mutate, and variants are not necessarily more or less harmful.

According to Sky News and The Telegraph, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs on Wednesday that the government was “concerned” over the new variant, adding: “We are taking steps to ensure that we do not see the import of this new variant from Brazil.”

Earlier on Thursday Johnson said there were “lots of questions” about the vaccine, including whether it would be resistant to vaccines, Sky News reported.

Brazil coronavirusXinhua/Lucio Tavora via GettyA COVID-19 patient is rushed into a hospital in Brasilia, Brazil, on January 11, 2021.

The Brazilian government instituted its own travel ban on the UK over Christmas, citing a different coronavirus variant from the UK that has proven to be more infectious.

Experts have said that COVID-19 vaccines should work against the UK variant.


Read more:
What’s coming next for COVID-19 vaccines? Here’s the latest on 11 leading programs.

UK hospitals, particularly in southern England and London, are currently struggling with the COVID-19 outbreak. Some NHS hospitals with bed shortages are starting to discharge existing patients early to make room for new admissions.

As of Thursday, Brazil has recorded 8.2 million COVID-19 cases and more than 205,000 deaths, making it the third-worst hit country in terms of infections, with the second-highest death toll.

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