Officials in China on Thursday announced it has banned flights from the United Kingdom over a mutant strain of coronavirus that is fueling a surge of infections across the nation.

“Given the exceptional nature of the virus mutation and its potential impact … China has decided to take reference from other countries and suspend flights to and from UK,” Wang Wenbin, a foreign ministry spokesman, told reporters on Thursday.

“China will closely monitor relevant developments and dynamically adjust control measures depending on the situation.”

Countries around the globe have been closing their borders to travelers from the United Kingdom in a bid to prevent the fast-spreading virus strain from infecting citizens.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson reversed course over the weekend on easing safety rules that would have allowed for household mixing during the holidays. Instead, he implemented some of the harshest guidelines the nation has faced since the fast-spreading mutation was detected in London and surrounding regions in recent weeks.

Medical experts have repeatedly said they do not believe the strain is more deadly or that it will affect vaccine distribution, which kicked off in the U.K at the beginning of the month. The CEO of BioNTech, earlier this week, said the variant was incredibly similar to the one spreading across the globe.

As of Thursday, more than 2.1 million people across the United Kingdom have died, including more than 69,000 who have died.

The two-shot treatment, developed by the German company and New York-based Pfizer, has been authorized for use in more than 45 countries including Britain, the United States and the EU. Hundreds of thousands of people have already received the shots.


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