UK bans flights from South Africa as New York to check on all British arrivals

Visitors who have travelled from or through South Africa will be denied entry to England and all direct flights banned

A ban on all direct flights from South Africa to England came into force on Christmas Eve morning, while New York authorities announced they would visit Britons arriving in the city to check they were quarantining, amid the spread of new variants of coronavirus in the UK and South Africa.

The UK health secretary, Matt Hancock, said the new mutation in South Africa was “highly concerning”, and was believed to be even more transmissible than the variant in the south-east of England that led to the introduction of tier 4 restrictions.

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