09:34 GMT21 January 2021
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    Health experts this week revealed that a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has emerged in the UK. To date, the variant is believed to be more contagious but not more lethal than other COVID-19 strains.

    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed Wednesday that all UK travelers going to the city will now be required to quarantine for two weeks or face a daily $1,000 fine. Travelers coming into the city from the UK will also receive visits from sheriff’s deputies to ensure that they are following quarantine guidelines.

    "We cannot take chances with anyone who travels, particularly people coming in from the UK," de Blasio revealed Wednesday, Axios reported. "This UK variant news is a real issue. I want to make sure we understand it," he added.

    "There’s been confusion in some of the stories I’ve read because it’s complicated. [UK Prime Minister] Boris Johnson shut down the UK one week after he said he would never shut it down for Christmas. The reason he shut it down, he said, and did a total 180-degree shift, was because they found a variant of the virus."

    Under the new travel guidelines, all traveling coming into New York City, regardless of where they’re traveling from, will also have to submit contact information forms to receive orders from the state's Department of Health.

    “Filling out a form to let them know that I guess they track your whereabouts. That was easy, too. Only took two minutes on the internet,” one traveler told CBS. 

    “They said we had to fill out a form. Basically, they’ll try to reach us if someone tested positive on the line,” another added.

    The latest guideline also comes after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that three airlines, namely Delta, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, will now require passengers to have a negative COVID-19 test before boarding flights from the UK to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City.

    The British government on Wednesday also confirmed that a second potentially more infectious variant of the novel coronavirus, first identified in South Africa, has been found in the UK.

    “Thanks to the impressive genomic capability of the South Africans, we’ve detected two cases of another new variant of coronavirus here in the UK,” British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told reporters on Wednesday.

    “This new variant is highly concerning, because it is yet more transmissible, and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant has been discovered in the UK,” he said.

    More than 40 countries in Europe, Asia, South America, the Caribbean and the Middle East have restricted travel from the UK to curb the transmission of the new COVID-19 variant. In addition to the UK, the variant has also been detected in Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia.


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