The Netherlands on Sunday banned air travel from the UK due to fears over the emergence of a new variant of coronavirus.

According to a statement by the Dutch Foreign Ministry, the travel ban will remain in place until Jan. 1.

“Over the next few days, together with other EU member states, it [Netherlands] will explore the scope for further limiting the risk of the new strain of the virus being brought over from the UK,” it said.

It said that “sampling of a case in the Netherlands in early December revealed the same virus strain as that observed in the UK.”

The ministry warned citizens to travel only if it is “absolutely essential.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday said the new strain could be up to 70% more transmissible than the old one.

The World Health Organization says it is in “close contact” with UK officials about the new mutation of the virus.

Large parts of south-east England, including London, are now under a new, stricter level of restrictions to curb the spread of the virus during the upcoming holiday season.

* Writing by Burak Dag in Ankara

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.