Covid: UK announces travel ban on Brazil and other countries to stop spread of new strain

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener

A travel ban on Brazil and a number of other South American countries has been imposed by the government in a bid to stop the spread of a new coronavirus variant.

Arrivals from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela will not be allowed to enter the UK from 4am on Friday January 15.

Travel from Portugal will also be suspended, with an exemption for hauliers travelling from the country to allow the transport of essential goods, transport secretary Grant Shapps said.

Chile, Madeira and the Azores will be removed from the UK travel corridor list, meaning all non-British and Irish nationals and those without permanent UK residency will be denied entry to the UK from 4am on Friday January 15.

  • No detected cases of Brazil Covid variant in UK, Shapps says

Writing on Twitter, Mr Shapps said: "This measure does not apply to British and Irish Nationals and third country nationals with residence rights – but passengers returning from these destinations must self-isolate for ten days along with their households."

The new Brazilian mutant strain is highly infectious, similar to the strains found in the UK and South Africa. It is unclear whether the existing vaccines will work on the Brazilian strain.

ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener says many on the backbenchers are hoping the lockdown ends once the vaccine is rolled out

Prime minister Boris Johnson expressed "concern" about the new strain when speaking at the liaison committee on Tuesday.

He told MPs the government was "taking steps" to ensure the new strain was not being imported.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific officer, told ITV News political editor Robert Peston that the new strain is "quite similar" to the South Africa strain.

"The Brazilian one, like the South African one, has a change of the genetic code position 484 and that changes a part of the protein," he said.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps earlier announced that new rules requiring travellers arriving in England to have a negative coronavirus test have been delayed “to give international arrivals time to prepare”.

The requirement for passengers arriving in England by boat, train or plane – including UK nationals – to test negative for Covid up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure was due to come into force at 4am on Friday.

But it has been pushed back until the same time on Monday, amid concern that guidance on which tests would be accepted had not been published early enough.

Mr Shapps also announced Aruba, Qatar, Bonarie, St Eusatius and Saba will also be removed from the travel corridor. This means anyone arriving into England from these destinations will need to isolate if arriving after 4am on Saturday January 16.