The UK government has banned all direct passenger flights from Dubai, forcing Emirates to halt all services to Britain and Ireland in what could be a fresh blow for stranded Australians overseas.
From 1pm today local time (midnight tonight AEDT), the United Arab Emirates (Dubai and Abu Dhabi), Rwanda and Burundi will be added to the UK’s growing ‘red list’ of coronavirus hotspots.
It is unclear how this will affect any Australians booked to return home from the UK via Emirates. 9News has contacted Emirates for comment.
No passengers from ‘red list’ nations are allowed entry into the United Kingdom, except for British or Irish citizens or permanent residents.
Those residents who do return must undergo 10 days of self-isolation at home.
Emirates confirmed in a statement on its website that it will be suspending all passenger services between Dubai and all their UK points: Birmingham, Glasgow, London and Manchester.
“We regret the inconvenience caused, and affected customers should contact their booking agent or Emirates call centre for rebooking,” the statement read.
The move is part of an attempt by the UK to stem the entry of a highly infectious new South African strain.
There are currently around 40,000 Australians stranded overseas attempting to return home, and around 4,500 of those are in the UK.
The UK is already struggling to contain its own highly infectious COVID-19 mutant strain, which has seen the UK’s coronavirus death toll skyrocket past 100,000 – the highest in Europe.
The three new nations were added to the UK’s red list as the new South African variant is believed to have spread there, according to the UK government website.