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COVID-19

UPDATE- Travel chaos in Europe – Which countries have imposed transport bans on UK?

Many countries around Europe have suspended travel links from the UK due to a new, more contagious strain of Covid-19, while others intend to do so. Here's the latest on the new travel chaos around Europe.

UPDATE- Travel chaos in Europe - Which countries have imposed transport bans on UK?
AFP

France 

France on Sunday halted all travel from Britain for 48 hours from midnight, including journeys “related to goods transport by road, air, sea or rail”.

The ban on everything but unaccompanied freight comes as companies scramble to shift merchandise across the Channel with days to go until Britain leaves the EU trade bloc.

Prime Minister Jean Castex's office said the 48-hour period would offer time to coordinate a joint EU response that would ultimately allow travel from the UK to resume “with compulsory testing on departure”.

READ MORE: France's UK travel ban – who is affected and what happens next?

Germany 

Germany halted all air links with the UK from midnight on Sunday, with the ban initially slated to last until December 31, Health Minister Jens Spahn told ARD public television.

Cargo flights will be exempt.

A government source told AFP that Berlin is already “working on measures” to extend the suspension into January, when the end of Britain's post-Brexit transition period means it will no longer be covered by EU rules that enable the flight ban.

READ MORE: Germany halts air links with UK over new Covid strain

Italy

On Sunday Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said that he had signed a decree “which blocks flights from Great Britain and prohibits entry into Italy of people who have stayed there during the last 14 days”.

Anyone in Italy who recently travelled from Britain must be tested, the statement added.

The new strain has been found in one person in Italy who recently returned from the UK.

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about Italy’s UK coronavirus travel ban

Sweden

Sweden will join a growing list of countries to ban travel from the UK over concerns of a new Covid strain, the Swedish government confirmed on Sunday.

The Swedish government is expected to formally make the decision on Monday, but Interior Minister Mikael Damberg confirmed to public broadcaster SVT that it will “come into force as soon as possible”.

Few details were immediately available.

Austria

The Austria Health Ministry announced on Sunday that it will ban flights from the UK from landing at its airports after a more infectious mutation of the coronavirus was detected in Britain.

The ministry told the APA news agency that it was planning a ban, but details on when it will come into force and how low it will last for are yet to be announced.

Denmark

All passenger flights from the United Kingdom to Denmark have been temporarily suspended due to the discovery of a faster-spreading variant of Covid-19.

Denmark will ban incoming flights from the UK for an initial 48 hours, effective at 10am on Monday.

The decision was made to prevent a new strain of Covid-19 found in the UK from spreading, health minister Magnus Heunicke stated on Twitter.

Norway

All passenger flights from the United Kingdom to Norway have been temporarily suspended with immediate effect due to the discovery of a faster-spreading variant of Covid-19.

The measure is effective for an initial two days but can be extended, NRK reports.

A number of other restrictions are to be placed on travellers arriving in Norway from the UK.

Health minister Bent Høie said that authorities in the Nordic countries have begun contacting persons who have travelled to Norway from the UK during the last 14 days. SMS messages have been sent to relevant persons, according to the minister.

READ ALSO: These are Norway's rules for recent arrivals from the UK

Switzerland

Switzerland's Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) suspended air links between the UK and Switzerland from midnight Sunday.

South Africa is also included in the ban, as the new virus variant is spreading through that country as well.

“The new strain is significantly more contagious than the known kind,” FOCA said in a press release on Sunday. 

Spain

Spain and Portugal on Monday decided to join other countries in suspending flights from the UK due to fears over the new Covid-19 strain. 

 

In a statement issued on Monday afternoon, the Spanish government announced its decision to ban flights from the UK. 

Flights will be suspended from Tuesday, December 22nd. Only Spanish citizens and those resident in Spain will be allowed to enter the country.

READ ALSO: Spain suspends UK flights but will allow residents to return

Ireland

Dublin said in a statement that all flights arriving from Britain from midnight Sunday would be banned for at least 48 hours.

Netherlands

All passenger flights from Britain to the Netherlands have been banned until January 1, the Dutch government said.

One case of the new strain has been found in the country, the health ministry added.

Norway

Norway was set to make a decision on whether to ban travel links to the UK on Monday.

Rest of Europe

Elsewhere in Europe, Belgium banned flights from the UK for 24 hours and Finland barred flights for two weeks

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have halted flights from the UK.

Bulgaria said flights to and from Britain would be suspended from midnight Sunday until January 31.

Romania has banned all flights to and from the UK for two weeks, beginning on Monday afternoon.

Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said the country would “temporarily suspend passenger air traffic from the UK for 48 hours”.

Member comments

  1. Yesterday there were packed terminals at London airports. People using a loophole by flying from London to Belfast in northern Ireland then travelling onwards to Dublin to catch flights all over Europe. There is no ban on leaving Ireland. This is bad.

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HEALTH

Experts warn of high levels of flu in France this winter

Experts have warned of a particularly bad flu epidemic this winter in France due to a combination of lowered immune systems and 'vaccine apathy' - urging high-risk groups to get their shot as soon as the flu vaccination campaign begins in October.

Experts warn of high levels of flu in France this winter

France’s annual flu vaccine campaign will officially get under way on October 18th this year – and medical experts have warned that this year’s season may be a bad one amid fears of “vaccine apathy”.

When, where and how to get flu shots and Covid boosters in France this autumn

Immunologist Alain Fischer, who chaired France’s Conseil d’orientation de la stratégie vaccinale throughout the Covid-19 pandemic said that the high number of flu cases in Australia and the southern hemisphere in its winter were “a warning sign” that this winter’s flu, coupled with rising cases of Covid-19, could lead to a sharp rise in hospitalisations again in the winter.

“For two years, influenza has been kept at bay, thanks to the barrier measures we have put in place against Covid,” he told Le Parisien. 

“This year, it will be difficult to maintain the same level of protection: masks, distancing, intensive hand washing … Faced with this relaxation, there is a serious risk of flu epidemic.”

Between two million and six million people contract flu every winter in France. The infection is responsible for between 4,000 and 6,000 deaths every year, usually among people aged 65 and over. But in ‘bad’ flu years, that mortality figure can rise rapidly.

READ ALSO When, where and how to get flu shots and Covid boosters this autumn in France

The country, meanwhile, is at the start of what is being described as an “eighth wave” of Covid, and the Haute Autorité de santé recommends the eligible, vulnerable people ensure they are vaccinated against both viruses as early as possible. “A Covid-flu cohabitation is not a good thing,”  Fischer said. “It is synonymous with a very high number of hospitalisations. 

“Hence the objective of two strong vaccination campaigns – Covid and flu – especially for the most vulnerable.”

“The double injection is very good, and practical for patients. But I think that we should not wait, especially vulnerable people. It is a mistake to think that you will get your Covid booster when the flu vaccine is here – the Covid jab should not be delayed.”

Currently less than 40 percent of people eligible for a fourth Covid vaccine have received their latest dose.

Dual-strain Covid-19 vaccines designed to combat both delta and omicron variants will be available in France from October 3rd.

READ ALSO France approves new vaccines for Covid Omicron sub-variants

“It is quite possible to get your Covid injection in early October and flu vaccine in late October – you will need both anyway,” Fischer said.

The Haute Autorité de Santé recommends influenza vaccination for the following groups:

  • people aged 65 and over; 
  • people with chronic diseases; 
  • pregnant women;
  • people suffering from obesity (BMI equal to or greater than 40 kg/m 2 );
  • Infants under 6 months at risk of serious influenza;
  • Families and others close to immunocompromised people; 
  • home help workers caring for vulnerable individuals.

For anyone in these groups, the flu vaccine is 100 percent covered by health insurance and delivered free of charge to the pharmacy, on presentation of a voucher.

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