Colombia restricts flights to and from Brazil over new coronavirus strain

BOGOTA, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Colombia will restrict flights to and from Brazil for a month to prevent the spread of a new strain of the coronavirus circulating there, President Ivan Duque said on Wednesday.

Monitoring at the border between Brazil, Latin America’s largest country, and Colombia will also be increased, the president said.

“As a preventative measure, for a period of 30 days while all observations are carried out, restrictive measures will be taken on flights from Colombia to Brazil and from Brazil to Colombia,” Duque said.

Cargo flights will continue operating with security measures in place, he added.

Colombia previously restricted flights, barring certain circumstances, to and from the United Kingdom after a new strain of coronavirus was discovered there.

While countries around the world also placed restrictions on U.K. flights, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson subsequently imposed restrictions on flights from South American countries over concerns over the spread of the new variant in Brazil.

Earlier on Wednesday, Portugal also said it will suspend all flights to and from Brazil from Jan. 29 until Feb. 14.

Manaus, a city in Brazil’s Amazonas state, which borders southern Colombia, is currently experiencing a brutal second wave of COVID-19 cases, driven by the new Brazilian variant.

Researchers in Manaus have said it is quite likely the new Brazilian variant is more infectious than other strains.

Colombia has reported more than 2 million coronavirus infections, as well as 52,523 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. (Reporting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)