European newspapers reacted on Monday to the news, comparing the UK’s temporary isolation to Brexit and dubbing the COVID mutation the “English variant”.
Der Spiegel in Germany said the continent is “sending the island into quarantine”, and included Matt Hancock’s quote that the new variant is “out of control”.
It compared the growing number of countries that have cut off travel with the UK to Britain’s attempt to finalise a trade agreement with the EU.
“The continent is sending the island into quarantine – a few days before the transition phase ends, after which Brexit will finally be completed,” the paper said.
“The historians of the future now really have enough colourful details to describe the British-European drama.”
Watch: What is the new COVID variant?
In France, Le Monde described the variant’s emergence as concluding a “disaster year” for the UK.
It said media reports about a mutant strain cancelling Christmas seemed “to come from an apocalyptic film”.
“Very quickly, it is becoming the dominant form of the disease across the Channel,” the paper said.
“In London, it represented 28% of cases in mid-November and 62% the week of December 7.”
In Spain, El Pais characterised Europe as “shielding itself” from the UK, and quoted an expert’s warning that the virus’s mutation shows it “is ahead of us”.
“The European Union began to shield itself against the United Kingdom on Sunday to try to stop the spread of a new strain of the coronavirus, more contagious, detected in the British Isles and to which the government of Boris Johnson attributes the rebound in cases of COVID-19 in his country,” its report said.
Corriere della Sera in Italy dubbed the strain as the “English variant” and described coronavirus’s sometimes less-serious appearance in people as “mild symptoms for a new nightmare”.
It warned also that the mutation has already spread to Europe.
“The "English variant" of the coronavirus has landed in Italy a few days ago, but the news was made known only last night, after the blocking of flights from the United Kingdom and the arrival of the last planes from British cities,” the paper said.
Watch: What is long COVID?