More countries shut their borders to the United Kingdom Monday as fears build over the new highly contagious coronavirus strain detected in the country.
India, Poland, Switzerland, Russia and Hong Kong barred visitors from the UK Monday — while Japan and South Korea said they were monitoring the situation — after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that a mutated variant of the virus, up to 70 percent more infectious, had been identified in the country.
France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Ireland, Belgium, Israel and Canada are among the countries that have already shut off travel ties with the country — branded the “Sick Man of Europe” by The Daily Mirror newspaper — following the startling warning.
Australia has reported that two people who traveled from the UK to New South Wales state were determined to have been carrying the mutated virus.
Johnson is set to chair an emergency response meeting Monday to discuss international travel, particularly the flow of freight in and out of the country.
European Union officials held their own meeting on coordinating their response.
France closed off its border to both people and trucks from Britain — suspending one of the most important trade arteries with mainland Europe.
Meanwhile, families and truck drivers are struggling to navigate the bans to get back home in time for Christmas.
And the country’s second-largest supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s, said shelves will appear rather bare if transport ties with mainland Europe aren’t back in effect within days.
“If nothing changes, we will start to see gaps over the coming days on lettuce, some salad leaves, cauliflowers, broccoli and citrus fruit – all of which are imported from the continent at this time of year,” Sainsbury’s said.
The new variant is spreading at an alarming rate in London and southeast England.
Health secretary Matt Hancock called the strain “out of control,” according to the BBC.
“We have got to get it under control,” he said, calling it “an incredibly difficult end to frankly an awful year.”
With Post wires
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