UK bans South America and Portugal arrivals amid Brazil variant fears – POLITICO


LONDON — The U.K. halted arrivals from a host of South and Central American countries, Portugal and Cape Verde from Friday in an attempt to halt the spread of a Brazilian variant of coronavirus.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Twitter Thursday that he had taken the “urgent decision” to “ban arrivals” from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, the French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Travel from Portugal to the U.K. will also be suspended “given its strong travel links with Brazil,” Shapps said, adding this was “another way to reduce the risk of importing infections.” Hauliers from Portugal will nonetheless be exempted from the ban, to prevent disruption to the transport of essential goods.

Arrivals from Cape Verde, an archipelago in West Africa and a former Portuguese colony, have also been banned.

The ban, which will come into force at 4am Friday, won’t apply to British and Irish nationals and third country nationals with residence rights, who must nonetheless self-isolate for 10 days along with the rest of the people they live with, Shapps said.

The announcement comes hours after U.K. ministers met to discuss plans to restrict any spread of an emerging variant of coronavirus identified in Brazil, which has caused concern among British scientists for its high infectiousness.

The government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance told ITV on Wednesday that the Brazilian strain has “some of the features” of the U.K. and South African variants, which spread more easily, but there is no evidence so far to suggest it provokes a more severe disease.

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