GERMANY will ban travel from Britain starting Saturday because of concerns about a COVID-19 variant.
After classifying Britain as an “area of variant concern,” Germany banned travel to the country to prevent the spread of the virus, a post on the German embassy’s website shows.
“There are local outbreaks again, including cases of more infectious variants such as currently the Indian variant,” the post said.
The embassy indicated exceptions to the ban for German citizens and people who are in the transit area of the airport while transferring from one flight to another.
“We have looked at all available data and details,” German Ambassador Andreas Michaelis tweeted early Saturday. “We did not take this step lightly.
Since March 30, all air travelers to Germany have been required to show a negative COVID-19 test taken up to 48 hours before departure. Starting Sunday, anyone entering Germany must also present a negative COVID-19 test upon entry and be quarantined for 14 days after arrival.
Variant B.1.617 accounts for 80% of COVID-19 cases in India and up to 20% of infections in the U.K., David Peters, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said during a phone call with reporters Thursday.
The World Health Organization has called it a “variant of concern” because it may be transmissible and resistant to vaccines, EuroNews reported. COVID-19 infections and deaths have skyrocketed in India, and the variant has spread to more than 50 countries since it was first detected in India in October.
The United Kingdom has more than 4.4 million COVID-19 cases and the most COVID-19 deaths in Europe, with 127,978 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University global tracker of cases and deaths.
Germany has 3.6 million cases and 87,320 deaths from COVID-19, the same tracker shows.
India has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, with more than 26 million cases, trailing the United States, which has more than 33 million cases, the tracker shows. India has the third highest number of deaths at 295,525, behind Brazil at 446,309 and the U.S. at 589,244.
In India, weakened immunity from COVID-19 has also made people more susceptible to a rare and potentially deadly infection called black fungus, along with other underlying diseases, particularly diabetes, CNN reports.
Thousands of black fungus cases have been reported across India, hundreds have been hospitalized from the fungal infection and at least 90 have died, according to CNN.