Britain’s Heathrow Airport refuses orders for extra flights from India

Travelers walk through Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport, amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London, Great Britain, on February 14, 2021. REUTERS / Henry Nicholls // Photo file

Britain’s Heathrow airport refused to allow extra flights from India before the country was added on Friday to Britain’s “red list” of places where most travel is banned due to high number of COVID-19 cases, the airport said on Wednesday.

Britain’s decision comes after detecting more than 100 cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in India, Health Minister Matt Hancock said on Monday. Read More

“We made the difficult but vital decision to add India to the Red List. This means that anyone who is not a UK resident, Irish or British citizen cannot enter the UK if they have been in India for the past 10 days,” Hancock told parliament.

Heathrow Airport’s refusal to allow extra flights from India was previously reported by the BBC, with the airport adding that it refused airlines’ orders due to concerns about passport control queues.

The airport also told Reuters it did not want to exacerbate the pressure on the border, allowing more passengers to fly.

India now faces a coronavirus “storm” overwhelming its health care system, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a national speech on Tuesday, with the world’s second most populous nation reporting 295,041 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday – the biggest daily increase reported in any country – taking its hospitals to the breaking point. Read More

India’s 2,023 deaths in one day were also the highest in the pandemic.

At least 24 patients with COVID-19 in western India died on Wednesday when the oxygen supply to their ventilators ran out, amid a national gas shortage and an increase in infections.

Health experts said India had let its guard down when the virus appeared to be under control over the winter, allowing for large gatherings such as weddings and festivals.

Modi himself is facing criticism for addressing crowded political rallies for local elections and allowing a religious festival to take place where millions have gathered.

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