India Extends UK Flight Ban Till January 7 Over Mutant Coronavirus

India on Wednesday extended the ban on flights from the United Kingdom till 7 January next year, following the detection of cases of the new coronavirus strain in the country. The decision has been taken amid concerns over the new strain of coronavirus which has emerged in the UK. India has so far reported 20 cases of the new COVID-19 variant.

Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri made it clear that the suspension will not be extended beyond January 7 and that flights will resume in a regulated manner. “Decision has been taken to extend the temporary suspension of flights to & from the UK till 7 January 2021. Thereafter strictly regulated resumption will take place for which details will be announced shortly,” Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said today. India had initially announced the suspension of flights from the UK from December 23 to 31. Further, RT-PCR tests for COVID-19 were made mandatory for all incoming passengers via direct or transit flights from the UK.

Meanwhile, the Union health ministry today said a total of 20 people who have come back to India from the United Kingdom have so far tested positive for the new UK variant genome of SARS-CoV-2. The tally includes six people who were found positive for the new virus strain on Tuesday who have been kept in single room isolation at special health care facilities by state governments and their close contacts have also been quarantined. UK is home to a huge Indian community and several flights per day take hundreds of people between London and New Delhi and London and Mumbai.