Coronavirus: UK-Australia flights under a cloud

Flights from the UK to Australia could be brought to a halt over concerns about a new highly infectious coronavirus strain.

Two people undertaking hotel quarantine in Sydney have been found to have the new variant, which prompted travel-related stocks to fall over the past 24 hours.

Countries across the world, including France and other European nations, have slapped travel bans on the people entering from the UK and shut trade routes, giving rise to food shortage concerns.

Transport Minister Michael McCormack was asked on Tuesday if Australia was considering stopping flights from the UK.

“Indeed,” Mr McCormack told ABC Radio National.

“We continue to review all of these arrangements.”

Mr McCormack said the two people in Sydney with the variant were a concern and that Australia’s expert medical panel was meeting daily with the prime minister.

“It is not just a concern for Australia, it’s a concern worldwide,” he said.

“We continue to monitor these and will act accordingly.”

Australia’s expert medical panel is monitoring travel between Australia and the UK, where many Aussies are stranded. Picture: NCA NewsWire/James GourleySource:News Corp Australia

Australian chief medical officer Paul Kelly on Monday said stopping flights from the UK was not yet necessary.

“There has been more transmission in recent times in southeast of the UK and that may be associated with the virus,” Professor Kelly said.

“Everyone coming from the UK is going into 14 days of hotel quarantine and they are of no risk as that quarantine works so successfully, as it has done for the most part here in Australia since the beginning.”

More than 38,000 Australians stuck overseas have registered to come home with Australia’s foreign affairs department.

In October, Australians in the UK deemed vulnerable were first in line for a charter flight home.

But thousands still remain stranded as parts of the UK enter tough lockdowns as 33,364 people tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.

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