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Norway lifts COVID ban on flights from UK

Norway is lifting a ban on UK flights that was brought in to stop the spread of a new coronavirus variant.

The country’s health ministry said planes would be able to land from 2 Jan at 4pm GMT.

The ban was introduced on 21 December and followed the lead of dozens of other countries that have taken similar steps in restricting or banning travel from the UK.

Norway is introducing mandatory COVID tests for everyone arriving from abroad from 2 January – to be taken directly upon arrival or up to 24 hours after.

“If this strain should spread in Norway, it will probably mean a full lockdown of society,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Thursday.

The variant was first detected in southeast England and spreads up to 70% more easily, according to scientists.

Cases have now been identified across Europe, as well as the US, Australia, Canada, India and Japan.

America, for example, now requires travellers from the UK to have tested negative within 72 hours of departure.

Although it is not expected to be any more resistant to vaccines, the increased ease of transmission means the variant could lead to more people ending up in hospital.

It is believed to have played a part in recent record case numbers in the UK, and the health secretary has said the variant now makes up the majority of infections.

Norway is doing better than most countries in Europe when it comes to limiting COVID cases.

The 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants was 113.6 on Wednesday, the fourth lowest in Europe, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

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