BEIJING: China will suspend direct flights to and from the United Kingdom, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said on Thursday (Dec 24), citing the emergence of a new COVID-19 virus strain.
“After much consideration, China has decided to take reference from other countries and suspend flights to and from the UK,” spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters at a daily briefing.
“China will closely monitor relevant developments and dynamically adjust control measures depending on the situation,” Wang said.
China is the latest in a growing number of countries and regions that have imposed travel bans on Britain to prevent the new strain spreading to their borders. Other countries and regions include Singapore, Hong Kong, India and several European Union countries.
READ: What we know about the new strain of coronavirus found in Britain
Huge swathes of Britain will be placed under its strictest COVID-19 restrictions as the “out of control” viral strain – which could be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the original – pushed the number of cases to a record level.
“Against this backdrop of rising infections, rising hospitalisations and rising numbers of people dying from coronavirus, it is absolutely vital that we act,” UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Wednesday.
“We simply cannot have the kind of Christmas that we all yearn for.”
There are currently eight weekly flights between mainland China and the United Kingdom, according to aviation data provider Variflight, including one each by Air China , China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines.
British Airways operates two flights a week from London to Shanghai.
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