COVID-19: India and Norway lift bans on flights from UK imposed over coronavirus variant fears

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

Flights between India and Britain will resume from 8 January.

Until 23 January they will be limited to 15 flights per week each for carriers of the two countries to and from the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

In Norway, the country's health ministry said planes would be able to land from 2 January 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 in 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.

But the variant may already be circulating across the country as cases have been found in Florida, California and Colorado.

People travelling from Britain are advised to check any entry restrictions on the government's travel advice website, or contact the relevant country's UK embassy.

Although the variant is not expected to be any more resistant to vaccines, the increased ease of transmission means it 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, meanwhile, 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.