Nations lower UK off as Johnson holds disaster assembly on new coronavirus variant

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France introduced a brief ban on all journey and accompanied freight on Sunday evening, a possible catastrophe for UK exporters who depend on commerce with Europe. The border closure exacerbated pre-Christmas delays, with vehicles backed up from the port of Dover within the southeast of England, a key crossing level for hauliers.

Worse, the transfer has sparked fear that European exporters could be reluctant to ship items to the UK, for worry of not having the ability to return. The timing of the restrictions, simply days earlier than Christmas and the tip of the Brexit transition interval, raised issues about meals and drugs shortages within the UK at a essential time.

Johnson sought to allay these issues in a televised press convention on Monday, telling Britons that “the overwhelming majority of meals and drugs provides are coming and going as regular.”

His transport secretary, Grant Shapps, added that 170 lorries have been nonetheless caught on the motorways round Dover, with extra in a holding space, however stated that quantity had been diminished from over 500 on Sunday evening.

It got here after Kent Police have been compelled to shut sections of England’s M20 motorway to “keep away from gridlock” within the space surrounding the Eurotunnel. Operation Stack — a contingency plan that enables a part of the freeway to be allotted to parked vehicles — has been put in place.

Trucks parked on the M20 near Folkestone, Kent, as part of Operation Stack after the Port of Dover was closed and access to the Eurotunnel terminal suspended.

France stated it was working to usher in a European-wide well being protocol that might permit freight to begin flowing once more.

“Within the subsequent few hours, on the European degree, we’re going to put in place a stable well being protocol in order that flows from the UK can resume,” Secretary of State for Transport Jean-Baptiste Djebbari tweeted Monday. “Our precedence is to guard our nationals and our residents,” he added.

Johnson stated he had spoken with French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday and insisted that the chance of transmission from a solitary truck driver was low.

Representatives of the highway haulage trade referred to as on the UK authorities to deploy speedy testing for truck drivers to revive confidence within the French authorities that they’re Covid-free.

“Proper now there will probably be concern round a backup if this persists for longer than 48 hours as a result of ultimately there will probably be a place the place the delays on the exit journey will probably be fairly substantial,” stated Alex Veitch, normal coverage supervisor for Logistics UK, on BBC Radio 4.

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British supermarkets stated that warehouses have been effectively stocked at current. Sainsbury’s warned that shortages of perishable items may begin to seem within the coming days, if the scenario isn’t resolved rapidly. A Sainsbury’s spokesperson informed the PA Media information company: “All merchandise for the Nice British Christmas lunch are already within the nation and we’ve loads of these. If nothing modifications, we’ll begin to see gaps over the approaching days on lettuce, some salad leaves, cauliflowers, broccoli and citrus fruit — all of that are imported from the continent presently of 12 months.”

Journey restrictions

By Monday, dozens of nations throughout Europe, the Center East and the Americas had introduced journey bans for the UK. Others, reminiscent of Greece and Spain, have imposed restrictions that require vacationers arriving from Britain to endure coronavirus checks or quarantine.

Canada introduced a journey ban from midnight Sunday for a minimum of 72 hours. In a Tweet Sunday evening, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated the choice was made to maintain Canadians throughout the nation secure.

In South America, Argentina, Chile and Colombia have all suspended direct flights to and from the UK, and El Salvador has banned anybody coming into the nation from Britain.

Police and port staff turn away vehicles from the Port of Dover in Kent, southeast England.

Hong Kong grew to become the primary place in Asia to limit British vacationers on Monday, halting all passenger flights from the UK from Tuesday and banning all passengers who stayed within the UK for greater than two hours up to now 14 days from arriving within the metropolis.

Within the Center East, flights from the UK have been barred in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel.

And throughout Europe, international locations have closed their borders to vacationers from UK, together with the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, Luxembourg, the Republic of Eire, Estonia and the Czech Republic.

On Monday, Anthony Fauci informed CNN that he would advise in opposition to extra restrictions on UK journey if the matter arises in a process drive assembly deliberate for later within the day. The US should “unquestionably control it,” Fauci stated, however he warned that “we do not need to overreact.”

Monday’s emergency assembly of UK authorities officers was anticipated to deal with the worldwide restrictions, and “specifically the regular move of freight into and out of the UK,” the Prime Minister’s spokesperson informed CNN. “Additional conferences are taking place this night and tomorrow morning to make sure sturdy plans are in place,” the spokesperson added.

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UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tried to ease fears on disruption to meals provides, saying the Eurotunnel from Dover to Calais solely accounts for about 20% of products moving into and overseas.

“It isn’t the mainstay, most items come out and in in unaccompanied containers and people will proceed to move,” he stated.

The journey restrictions adopted the announcement by the British authorities on Saturday that the brand new coronavirus variant appeared to unfold extra rapidly.

In a unexpectedly referred to as press convention Saturday, Johnson stated the brand new variant appeared to “be as much as 70% extra transmissible,” and was chargeable for a major rise in circumstances in London and southeastern England. These areas have been positioned beneath heightened restrictions.

The more durable lockdown was the newest disruption to a vacation interval overshadowed by the pandemic. Governments from Asia to Europe have tightened social-distancing guidelines and reintroduced lockdown measures to counter a surge in Covid-19 circumstances. The invention of the brand new variant has deepened issues main restrictions will now proceed lengthy into the brand new 12 months.

Exterior of the UK, the brand new variant has already been recognized in Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Australia.

Australian well being authorities stated two circumstances of the variant had been present in managed quarantine in Sydney, whereas Italy’s Well being Ministry reported Sunday {that a} affected person had been contaminated with the variant and positioned beneath isolation in Rome.

All viruses mutate over time and new variants are a typical emergence, together with for the novel coronavirus. The same variant to the one recognized within the UK has additionally been recognized in South Africa, the place scientists say it’s spreading rapidly alongside coastal areas of the nation.

What do we all know in regards to the new variant?

Johnson revealed on Monday that greater than 500,000 British folks had obtained the primary dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, which the UK was the primary nation to approve.

His medical advisers warned that the brand new variant of the virus may trigger a rise in infections within the coming weeks.

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However England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance cautioned that there was no proof to counsel that the brand new variant is extra lethal, or would neutralize the effectiveness of the newly authorised vaccines. Nevertheless, a extra simply unfold virus may end in extra circumstances, which in flip may result in extra hospitalizations and doubtlessly extra deaths. Even with a vaccine, this might make controlling the virus’s unfold far much less manageable.

Whitty warned Saturday that the brand new UK variant “can unfold extra rapidly” and was chargeable for 60% of latest infections within the capital, which have practically doubled within the final week alone.

In Monday’s briefing, Vallance added that he anticipated the unfold of the brand new variant would improve after Christmas.

“On condition that we’re coming into a interval of inevitable mixing, I believe there will probably be some will increase in numbers over the subsequent few weeks,” he stated, including that native restrictions are prone to be tightened quite than eased within the new 12 months.

The prediction comes regardless of Johnson’s last-minute resolution on Saturday to cancel Christmas plans for hundreds of thousands of Brits, imposing more durable restrictions after insisting for weeks that they may plan to see relations for the vacations.

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Backwards tracing utilizing genetic proof suggests the brand new UK variant emerged in September after which circulated at very low ranges within the inhabitants till mid-November, in response to Public Well being England (PHE).

“The rise in circumstances linked to the brand new variant first got here to gentle in late November when PHE was investigating why an infection charges in Kent weren’t falling regardless of nationwide restrictions. We then found a cluster linked to this variant spreading quickly into London and Essex,” the company stated.

A number of specialists have recommended that this new variant may have been amplified due to a superspreader occasion; it could possibly be the mutation in some way makes it unfold extra simply with out inflicting extra severe sickness; or it may have been by probability.

Scientists at EPH have but to determine the precise mechanism for the seemingly improve in transmission, although usually a mutation within the spike protein, the a part of the virus that attaches itself to host cells, can improve its transmissibility, the company stated.

CNN’s Amy Woodyatt, Amy Cassidy, Fanny Wang and Stephanie Halasz contributed reporting



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