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UPDATE: Flights to Poland from Britain will be suspended from midnight

21.12.2020 16:41
Flights from Britain to Poland will be suspended from midnight after a new, more contagious strain of the coronavirus was found in the UK.
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Polish state news agency PAP reported that the government in Warsaw was planning to keep the ban in place until January 6.

"For safety reasons, flights from Great Britain to Poland will be suspended from midnight on Monday," government spokesman Piotr Mueller wrote on Twitter.

Free tests for arrivals from UK

Mueller said that anyone who had arrived in Poland from Britain “in recent days” would have the opportunity to undergo a quick, free COVID-19 test.

He added there was no confirmation that the new strain of the coronavirus had appeared in Poland yet.

Ahead of the ban on flights from Britain that comes into force at midnight, Polish state-owned airline LOT said it would provide an additional connection from London to Warsaw on Monday evening.

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner, capable of carrying almost 300 passengers, will offer some Poles a way to return to their home country for Christmas.

Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Bulgaria have already suspended flights to and from Britain, public broadcaster Polish Radio's IAR news agency reported.

Over the weekend, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed an effective lockdown on more than 16 million people in England and reversed plans to ease curbs over Christmas, saying Britain was dealing with a new coronavirus strain up to 70 percent more transmissible than the original, the Reuters news agency reported.

Johnson and his scientific advisors nevertheless said they believe vaccines will still be effective, and added that the new strain is not more deadly or more serious in terms of the illness caused.

EU regulator approves Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

Meanwhile, an EU regulator on Monday recommended conditional approval for a coronavirus vaccine produced by US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for use across the European Union.

The decision by the European Medicines Agency was expected to be greenlighted by the EU’s executive, the European Commission, later in the day.

Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki wrote on Facebook: “Poland is ready to distribute [the vaccine] and carry out a vaccination programme.”

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has previously announced that COVID-19 vaccinations will begin in EU countries from December 27.

Poland on Monday reported 4,633 new coronavirus infections and 77 more deaths, bringing its total number of cases to 1,207,333 and fatalities to 25,474.

The country plans to spend PLN 3 billion (EUR 675m, USD 820m) on over 60 million doses of coronavirus vaccines under a national inoculation programme adopted by the government.

The first vaccines are expected to arrive in Poland by the end of this year, according to officials.


Source: IAR/Polish Radio/PAP/Reuters