Spain calls for common EU response to mutated UK coronavirus strain amid border closures

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Representative image
Representative image

Madrid [Spain], December 20 (ANI/Sputnik): The Spanish government has called on the European Union to agree on a common strategy of response to the mutation of SARS-CoV-2, the discovery of which in the United Kingdom prompted many EU countries to shut their borders with the former fellow member state.

Madrid has sent a request to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel, according to a press release by the Spanish government.

"The goal is to protect the rights of EU citizens in a coordinated manner, avoiding unilateralism. The Spanish government expects a prompt reply from the European institutions, but warns that in the case of its absence we will be acting in the interest and for the protection of rights of Spanish citizens," the Spanish government said.

On Saturday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the discovery of a new, more infectious strain of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 made it necessary to impose Tier 4 restrictions -- the strictest bundle in a four-level scale -- in some parts of the country. According to interim assessments, the new strain can transmit up to 70 per cent faster than the original coronavirus, although there is no data available on whether or not it is more deadly.

In addition to UK citizens rushing out of the locked down areas, including London, ahead of the Christmas season, some EU member states chose to suspend the air traffic with the whole of the United Kingdom in a bid to prevent the import of the new strain.

The Netherlands banned flights from the UK until January 1, and the Italian Foreign Ministry announced Rome's intention to do the same. Belgium will reportedly shut down the border for the next 24 hours, while the German and Austrian authorities are considering halting the flights not only from the UK but also from South Africa, where the new strain was detected as well. (ANI/Sputnik)