London, Jan 14 (efe-epa).- The United Kingdom is to ban international arrivals from South America as well as Portugal, Panama and Cape Verde amid fears of a new variant of the coronavirus in Brazil.
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said the ban would come into effect on Friday.
The government minister said the UK would no longer permit arrivals from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.
He added that flights from Portugal to the UK would also be suspended given its “strong travel links with Brazil.”
UK and Irish residents as well as third party residence permit holders will be exempt from the new rules but will have to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.
Truckers traveling from Portugal to the UK will also be exempt.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday expressed his concern over the emergence of a new coronavirus variant detected in Brazil. It follows a similar decision with South Africa after a variant was detected in the African nation.
The UK is currently grappling with its own coronavirus variant that was first reported in southern England and which experts believe to be up to 70% more contagious than the original strain.
The prime minister has also attributed a surge in UK Covid-19 cases on the new variant, which has become dominant in the country.
British health authorities are logging record highs of between 40-55,000 cases per day in recent weeks while on Wednesday, official figures showed some 1,564 people had died from the disease in 24 hours.
The UK remains under a strict lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. The Covid-19 strategy is handled by the devolved governments of the country’s constituent nations — England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.EFE-EPA