PASSENGERS on the last flight from South Africa to the UK say they "breezed through immigration" with no warning.

Travel from the country into Britain is now banned due to another new Covid strain which appears to have originated there.



There are two recorded cases in the UK, in people who were close contacts of travellers from South Africa. The two are in London and the North West of England.

Flights are now banned, but anyone who has entered the UK from the country within the last two weeks must quarantine by law.

The last flights arrived from Cape Town and Johannesburg this morning at Heathrow.

Passengers told of their surprise there didn't appear to be precautions in place for their arrival, or information about quarantining.

One couple told the MailOnline: "We just breezed through immigration and nothing was said.

"There was not a lot of clarity over this new strain of the virus.

"We had filled out a locator form but were not asked any other questions. It didn't take very long to get through and collect our bags.

"We did not have our temperature taken or asked any anything."

VARIANT FEARS

The Department of Transport last night confirmed that all passengers travelling from South Africa to England from 9am this morning would not be permitted to enter the country.

Ministers fear this variant, known as 501Y.V2, is even more infectious than the one found in Kent that has been behind a recent explosion of coronavirus infections in the East, South East and London.  

British and Irish Nationals, visa holders and permanent residents arriving from the country will be able to enter but are required to self-isolate for ten days along with their household. 

Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has travelled from South Africa must also quarantine, as the Government tries to keep this variant from spreading.

Sky News presenter Kay Burley returned from the country days ago and must now isolate.

She had been pulled from air and suspended for six months after breaking Covid rules for a birthday party.

All direct flights are banned, excluding cargo and freight without passengers. 

 

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, tweeted: "I've taken the decision to temporarily stop flights and arrivals entering England from South Africa from 9am tomorrow following an outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus."

Yesterday the Health Secretary revealed two cases of the more infectious strain had been found in the UK, just days after the announcement that a highly contagious new variant was tearing through the South East of England.

Experts have been left frantic over the two new variants which have emerged in recent weeks and appear to be quickly spread.

Matt Hancock warned the variant from South Africa was "highly concerning and yet more transmissible and appears to have mutated further".

It is believed to be behind an increase in cases in South Africa, which has also seen a spike in hospitalisations in recent weeks.

Lawrence Young, a professor of molecular oncology, Warwick Medical School, said: “The South African virus variant emerged in a major metropolitan area in South Africa following the first wave of the epidemic and then spread to multiple locations within two other neighbouring provinces.

“It has rapidly spread become the dominant virus variant in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces.”

At this stage, its symptoms do not appear to be different to that caused by the original Covid strain.

The most common signs of Covid to look out for are a loss of taste and smell, a persistent cough, and a high temperature.



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