Ban on freight, travel will not impact COVID-19 vaccination: UK transport minister

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Representative Image

London [UK], December 21 (ANI/Sputnik): UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on Monday that the ban on travel and freight from the country imposed by France and other European countries out of fear of a new strain of coronavirus identified in southeast England, would not affect its COVID-19 vaccination as vaccines come in unaccompanied containers.

"No, there is no issue at all... This (ban) won't have an impact on the vaccination programme," Shapps told Sky News broadcaster.

The minister explained that all the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines that the UK started to roll out two weeks ago come in containers unaccompanied by hauliers, even as about 6,000 vehicles were stuck in Dover on Monday as a result of the ban imposed by France on Sunday.

"Most of the vaccines don't come by what is called RO-RO (Roll-on, Roll-off), which is what we are talking about here. It's not usually accompanied by a driver, or a haulier. It comes in those containers," he explained, adding that about half a million people in the UK are believed to have had their first dose of the vaccine so far.

On Saturday, the UK government practically put large parts of the country, including London, under another lockdown, after admitting that more than half of all the new COVID-19 cases had been caused by a mutated coronavirus strain that can transmit up to 70 per cent faster.

As UK citizens rushed out of the lockdown areas ahead of Christmas, many countries in Europe and beyond chose to close borders with the whole of the United Kingdom in a bid to prevent the import of the new strain.

According to Shapps, the UK government is working with France to resolve the transport ban as soon as possible, amid fears that if it lasted longer than 48 hours it could result in a food shortage before Christmas. (ANI/Sputnik)