1st LD: UK to close all travel corridors to keep out new COVID variants


LONDON, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Friday that Britain will close all travel corridors to the country from 0400 GMT on Monday in a bid to keep out new coronavirus variants.

Britain "will temporarily close all travel corridors from 0400 on Monday," the prime minister said at a virtual press conference at Downing Street.

The new measure means that travellers entering the country must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test in previous 72 hours.

Anyone arriving in Britain must quarantine for 10 days or they have the choice of doing an extra test on day five to shorten the isolation, Johnson said.

"What we don't want to see is all that hard work undone by the arrival of a new variant that is vaccine busting," he said.

The prime minister made the remarks after Britain on Thursday banned arrivals from South America, Portugal and some other countries over fears about a strain of the virus detected in Brazil.

The new rules will be in place until at least Feb. 15, he said.

Meanwhile, Johnson said 3.2 million people across Britain have received vaccines.

"It's precisely because we have the hope of that vaccine and the risk of new strains coming from overseas that we must take additional steps now to stop those strains from entering the country," he said.

The pressures on the National Health Service (NHS) are "extraordinary" and it would be "fatal" to show complacency now, he said.

"This is not the time for the slightest relaxation of our national resolve," Johnson said, urging the public to stay at home.

England is currently under the third national lockdown since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country. Similar restriction measures are also in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Another 55,761 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 3,316,019, according to official figures released Friday.

Another 1,280 have died within 28 days of a positive test. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 87,295, the data showed.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.

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