40 countries ban travel to UK as new Covid strain stokes panic in country

More than 40 countries banned arrivals from the UK in an effort to keep out a new fast-spreading variant of coronavirus and Boris Johnson is facing intense pressure to impose another national lockdown within days.

Many scientific advisers and health experts warned that inaction could cost tens of thousands of lives and risk an “economic, human and social disaster”, with the new strain spreading across the UK and overseas.

The World Health Organisation cautioned against major alarm over a new, highly infectious variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in Britain, Reuters reported.

“We have to find a balance. It’s very important to have transparency, it’s very important to tell the public the way it is, but it’s also important to get across that this is a normal part of virus evolution.Being able to track a virus this closely, this carefully, this scientifically in real time is a real positive development for global public health, and the countries doing this type of surveillance should be commended,” WHO emergencies chief Mike Ryan told an online briefing.

British supermarket group Tesco warned on Monday that there may be a shortage of some fruit and vegetables later this week if transport ties are not quickly restored with mainland Europe, Guardian reported.

The supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s has warned that some products could be missing from UK shelves due to restrictions at ports, but said food for a traditional Christmas lunch is available and already in the country.