A slew of countries closed their borders to Britain on Monday over fears of a highly infectious new coronavirus strain, heightening global panic, causing travel chaos and raising the prospect of UK food shortages days before the Brexit cliff edge.
India, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Russia, Jordan and Hong Kong suspended travel for Britons after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that a mutated variant of the virus, up to 70% more transmissible, had been identified in the country. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman closed their borders completely.
Several other nations have suspended travel from Britain including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Ireland, Belgium, Israel and Canada – although scientists said the strain may already be circulating in countries with less advanced detection methods than the United Kingdom.
The discovery of the new strain came just months before vaccines are expected to be widely available, sowed fresh panic in a pandemic that has killed about 1.7 million people worldwide and more than 67,000 in Britain.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urged the U.S. government to take steps to prevent the new strain entering the country, which has been worst hit by COVID-19 with almost 318,000 deaths.