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Flights from UK suspended by some European countries after scientists discover new coronavirus strand

People at St Pancras station in London, wait to board the last train to Paris today, Sunday Dec. 20, 2020. Millions of people in England have learned they must cancel their Christmas get-togethers and holiday shopping trips. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday that holiday gatherings can’t go ahead and non-essential shops must close in London and much of southern England. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Some European countries including Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands are canceling all flights from the UK after scientists discovered a new strand of the coronavirus that’s rapidly spreading.

Health officials warn the new strain spreads faster. However, as of now it is not suspected to be more dangerous, they say. Britain also imposed Tier 4 restrictions a result of Health Secretary, Matt Hancock’s, comments that the government management of the spread is out of control.’

According to Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, the Netherlands has also seen the variant in their country and is canceling flights for 24-hours out of precaution, but that could change. 

“As a precautionary measure, we have decided to stop flights from the UK from midnight for a period of 24 hours, and just as importantly for our country, to do the same for the Eurostar (train) — because that’s actually the main way that people from the UK come into our country,” he said, speaking to CNN affiliate VRT’s Sunday morning news program De Zevende Dag.”

It’s not yet clear how long Italy will suspend travel. 

According to Britain’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Chris Whitty, it’s possible the new strand spreads as high as 70% faster. In an interview with CNN, Whitty says the new virus is ‘responsible for 60% of infections in London.’

News 8’s medical reporter, Dr. Mary Elizabeth Gillis, D.Ed., is a classically trained medical physiologist and biobehavioral research scientist. She has been a health, medical and science reporter for over 5 years. Her work has been featured in national media outlets. You can follow her on Instagram @reportergillis and Facebook @DrMaryGillis.