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LONDON: Britain on Tuesday announced tough new measures to curb the spread of coronavirus variants from abroad, including steep fines and even jail time for those who break the rules.

The country has been one of the worst affected in the global health crisis, with some 113,000 deaths, and is banking on a mass vaccination drive to cut infection rates.

But fears have grown over new variants of the virus, including a South African strain that may be more resistant to new vaccines.

Now, travellers who already must show evidence of a negative test 72 hours before their trip will have to take two Covid tests during a mandatory 10-day quarantine period.

The tests will have to be taken on days two and eight of self-isolation after arrival, with any positive result adding 10 more days to the confinement.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told parliament that British or Irish residents arriving from 33 countries deemed high risk of new variants will have to stay in one of 16 designated hotels in England.

Travellers will have to stay in their rooms, have meals delivered to them and pay out their own pocket at a cost of £1,750 ($2,400, 2,000 euros).

High-risk countries include South Africa and all South American nations. All travel from there is currently banned for non-British residents.

A recent South African study indicated the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine did not prevent mild or moderate forms of the variant circulating there — of which 147 cases have been found in Britain so far.

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday he was confident that all vaccines being used against the strain were “effective in delivering a high degree of protection against serious illness and death”.

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