India Assessing Situation on Flights After UK Reports 70% More Infectious Coronavirus Variant

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The government is assessing the situation regarding flights from the UK as the European country reports a highly infectious strain of coronavirus that has pushed London and southeast England under ‘stay at home’ lockdown ahead of Christmas.

At least three European countries have banned flights from the UK -- Netherlands, Belgium and Italy. Reports suggest that the European Union countries are now looking at a collective step in response to the revelation that this strain of SARS CoV-2 is over 70% more infectious.

The UK is one of the 23 countries that India established a bilateral air bubble with. Transport bubbles or air bubbles are temporary arrangements between two countries. They were aimed at "restarting commercial passenger services when regular international flights are suspended as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic," as per the ministry of civil aviation. They are reciprocal in nature, which means airlines of "both countries enjoy similar benefits”.

Under this arrangement, the persons who can travel from UK to India are stranded Indians, all Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cardholders holding UK passports and foreigners who are eligible to enter India.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meanwhile, has come under criticism after upending Christmas plans for millions with the Tier 4 lockdown. "Not much was understood about this mutant virus. But that uncertainty should have been enough for the PM to see that then was the time to call off Christmas," wrote The Sunday Mirror weekly. Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer accused Johnson of being scared of taking unpopular decisions.

It's significant to note that Boris Johnson will be travelling to India as the Republic Day chief guest.