15:58 GMT15 January 2021
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    Late last week, a whole array of countries imposed temporary bans on flights from the UK, where a highly contagious strain of the coronavirus was earlier identified.

    Former Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard has called for "temporarily" halting all flights from Britain to America "to stop the more infectious mutation of COVID from entering the US".

    "This should have been done days ago. Negative tests from passengers is not sufficient. It's too little too late", she tweeted on Saturday.

    This came after the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday that the authorities will require all passengers arriving in the US from Britain to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their arrival.

    Gabbard's remarks echoed those of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who urged the federal government on Monday to stop all travel from the UK completely, or at least impose a mandatory requirement of pre-boarding testing for airlines between the US and the UK.  

    The governor also announced that he had asked three major airlines, including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Delta to add the state of New York to the list of the countries requiring their passengers from the UK to provide a negative COVID-19 test result before getting on a flight.

    "The [new coronavirus] strain is so serious that the UK has closed down again. We are on notice about it. Why don't we act intelligently for a change? Why don't we mandate testing before people get on the flight, or hold the flights from the UK now? Many other countries have done this", Cuomo pointed out.

    Last week, the UK identified a new variant of the coronavirus, which London Imperial College epidemiologist Neil Ferguson estimated has an increased transmission rate up to 70 percent compared with other COVID-19 strains.

    Many countries across the world, including France, Russia, and the Netherlands, have since suspended passenger travel to and from the UK in a bid to prevent the import of the new virus strain.

    According to the UK Department of Health and Social Care, the new variant of COVID-19 was first discovered at Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa in early October, however, specialists believe the new mutation could have started spreading as early as late August.


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