RwandAir contemplates suspending flights to UK as new coronavirus strain bites

On 22 December 2020 at 10:36

President Paul Kagame has said that Rwanda is set to assess whether it can suspend flights to or from England following new Coronavirus variant reported in the country.

Many countries have closed borders for people coming from England while a number of airlines have suspended flights to the country as part of efforts to curb the spread of new Coronavirus variant. Turkish Airlines has suspended flights to countries including England, Netherlands, Denmark and South Africa where the new virus has been reported.

A new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) has been identified across the South East of England. The variant has been named ‘VUI – 202012/01’ (the first Variant Under Investigation in December 2020).

The country is acting quickly and decisively and shutting down the businesses to avoid the spread of the strain which is known to be highly contagious.

As of 13 December, 1,108 cases with this variant had been identified, predominantly in the South and East of England.

The new virus strains is said to spread 70% faster with similar lethal effect as per cases reported in South Africa, Australia, Italy, Spain and parts of Europe.

At least 50 countries from five continents worldwide have suspended air flights to and from England. People from England are banned from these countries.

President Kagame has said that Rwanda is set to assess the situation to make the right decision.

“It is an emerging virus stemming from the existing one. People are following up to get enough information about it. Concerning suspended flights, we are also going to assess the situation and make decision. We cannot disregard the reason pushing others to suspend flights. We will do situational analysis to find out if we can suspend or reduce [flights] but more information about the virus will be clearer during the process,” he said.

The UK has issued harsher restrictions to tackle the emergence of a new, more infectious strain of coronavirus that is spreading rapidly in southeast England. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new strain was up to 70% more transmissible than other variants, with it already accounting for over 62% of COVID-19 infections in London.

Researchers have not yet confirmed if produced COVID-19 vaccines can be effective for the new variant of the virus.