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India suspends flights from UK until December 31: government

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    Agence France-Presse

New Delhi, India   /   Mon, December 21, 2020   /   05:30 pm
 India suspends flights from UK until December 31: government Passengers wearing protective face masks wait in a queue to enter Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, after the government allowed domestic flight services to resume, during an extended nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Mumbai, India, May 25, 2020. (REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas)

India said Monday it was joining other countries in temporarily suspending all flights from Britain after the emergence of a new and more infectious strain of coronavirus there.

"Considering the prevailing situation in UK. Govt. of India has decided that all flights originating from UK to India to be suspended till 31st December 2020," the aviation ministry said in a tweet.

It said the suspension would come into effect from 11:59 pm (0629 GMT) on Tuesday.

It added that in a "measure of abundant precaution", passengers arriving from Britain on transit flights would be subject to a mandatory RT-PCR test on arrival.

Britain is home to a huge Indian diaspora and there are several flights per day taking hundreds of people between London and New Delhi and London and Mumbai.

Earlier on Monday, Hong Kong said it would ban all flights from Britain following the discovery of a new and highly infectious strain of the coronavirus there.

"From midnight there will be no more passenger flights arriving in Hong Kong from the United Kingdom," health secretary Sophia Chan told reporters.

Anyone arriving in Hong Kong who has been the UK in the last 14 days will also have to undergo a longer quarantine, officials said.

All international passengers to Hong Kong currently have to undergo a two-week mandatory quarantine in a dedicated hotel. 

Those with a recent travel history in Britain will have to complete their hotel quarantine as well as a further week's isolation at home before being allowed out in public.

Countries around the world have begun banning flights and travellers from Britain as London said Sunday the spread of a more-infectious new coronavirus strain was now "out of control".

Hong Kong's decision will particularly hit students from the city who were studying there and hoping to return home over the Christmas period.

"Regarding the quite a number of students studying in the United Kingdom who were returning home to Hong Kong, the government believes we must immediately roll out stringent and targeted measures to prevent the mutated virus from spreading in Hong Kong," Chan said.