The coronavirus mutation discovered in the UK was likely also identified in the Netherlands. In order to prevent further spread of the new variant, the cabinet has banned air travel with passengers from the United Kingdom. This goes into effect on Sunday at 6 a.m. and is valid until January 1st.
The flight ban does not apply to freight traffic. The government is investigating the possibility of additional measures against travelers who want to go to the Netherlands by other means, according to a letter to the House of Commons. Measures against the further spread of the new variant from the UK are also being examined with other EU member states. “The Cabinet is aware of the fact that the imposition of a flight ban is a very serious measure, but considers this measure to be justified given the situation.”
A virus with the variant described in the United Kingdom was found in a sample of a case in the Netherlands in early December, the cabinet reports. This sampling will be investigated further. The GGD is investigating who it is, how they were infected, and whether other related cases are known. The mutation came from a sample from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), which examined the full composition of the viruses detected each week.
The British Corana virus mutation could be transmitted much faster than the variant that is already in circulation and more difficult to detect, the government writes. The RIVM has advised the cabinet to “limit the introduction of this strain of virus from the UK as much as possible”.
According to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the new variant is up to 70 percent more contagious. There is no evidence that the new variant of the virus is any more deadly or less preventable with the new vaccines. Johnson announced strict lockdown measures in London and the south-east of England on Saturday night. The new variant of the virus is spreading very quickly there.
The new strain, with the scientific name SARS-COV-2 VUI 202012/01, was first discovered in September. The mutation was found mainly in south-east England, but was also identified in Wales. Three other cases are known in Denmark and one in Australia.