Multiple countries around the world have prohibited flights from the United Kingdom, following confirmation of a new strain of COVID-19 that’s been found in the country.
While Canada’s U.K. travel ban is one of the strictest to be implemented so far, experts are concerned that a 72-hour block is not enough.
Why are so many countries banning U.K. travel?
In an announcement on December 20, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that all flights from Britain would be blocked for three days.
It’s an attempt to curb possible transmission of the new U.K. strain of COVID-19, which may be up to 70% more contagious.
While there is currently no evidence to suggest this strain is any more deadly, it could be responsible for the significant spike in COVID-19 cases that have recently been reported in England.
While BBC News says there’s also no proof that the new U.K. strain reacts differently to vaccines, experts warn it could possibly evolve to avoid the vaccine if we wait too long to take action.
Which countries have banned flights?
As of Monday morning, air travel from the U.K. had been banned in Poland, Turkey, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Finland, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, Denmark, Estonia and more.
Hong Kong, Israel, Iran, Morocco, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru have also brought in restrictions.
In France, all travel links, including trucks transporting goods, were banned for 48 hours.
In the Republic of Ireland, flights from Britain have been banned for two days and residents have been asked not to travel to Ireland by “air or sea.”
The majority of the temporary bans are for an initial period of 24-48 hours.
While Canada has gone for a slightly longer 72-hour ban, the Netherlands and Italy have halted U.K. flights until January.
Russia is suspending air travel with the country for one week, while India has issued restrictions until December 31.
What do experts think?
While Canada’s U.K. travel ban is certainly not the shortest out there, some experts believe the three-day time frame won’t be enough.
Dr. Kerry Bowman, professor of bioethics and global health at the University of Toronto, told Narcity that it was “not really long enough to make a difference.”
“If the threat still looks significant in 72 hours, then there is good reason to extend,” he added.
In fact, he suggested the new U.K. strain may have already arrived in Canada.
It was a message backed up by Dr. Colin Furness, assistant professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.
He told Narcity it’s “cowardly to pretend that a short ban will have any impact.”
“We need a sustained ban on travel, but that takes political courage,” he added.
Announcing the travel ban on Sunday, Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair confirmed that after 72 hours the original restrictions could be “extended or enhanced.”