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As of Monday, United passengers traveling from London to Newark will have to demonstrate a negative COVID-19 test, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced on Thursday.

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Negative COVID-19 molecular test or antigen test results must be received within 72 hours of departure from London Heathrow Airport for inbound flights to Newark Liberty International Airport.

“As we continue to experience a second wave of COVID-19 cases, it is important that we take all precautions to reduce the potential for further transmission,” Murphy said in a statement. “While New Jersey continues to discourage all non-essential travel at this time, when unavoidable, international travelers should adhere to CDC’s pre- and post-flight testing guidelines and recommended self-quarantine period.”

On Thursday, New Jersey reported 4,871 positive COVID-19 cases and 80 confirmed deaths, bringing the nationwide total since the pandemic started to 449,842 cases and 16,599 deaths.

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United said the policy will also affect inbound flights from London to hubs in Chicago, Washington and San Francisco. This does not apply to persons boarding a United flight from another country at London Heathrow Airport.

“The health and safety of our employees and customers is our top priority,” said a statement from the airline.

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United will operate four daily flights between London and its hubs in Chicago, Newark, Washington and San Francisco in December and two daily flights between London and its hubs in Newark and Chicago in January 2021.Tests will be made for ticketed passengers at the Collinson test center in the terminal 2 offered at London Heathrow.

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The move comes after a new variant of COVID-19 was discovered in the UK earlier this month, which has resulted in flight restrictions for several EU countries including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Italy, Bulgaria and Ireland.

While scientists are investigating the variant, over 500,000 doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the UK, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The UK variant was not identified by sequencing in the US, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. However, according to CDC officials, viruses have only been sequenced from about 51,000 of the 17 million US cases.

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BNTX BIONTECH SE 104.44 +8.53 + 8.89%

The flexibility of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine “includes the ability to change the RNA sequence in the vaccine to cover new virus strains in the event that someone who is not well covered by the current vaccine ever emerges,” said a Pfizer spokesman opposite Fox News on Tuesday.

In addition, Pfizer and BioNTech tested individuals immunized with the COVID-19 vaccine for their ability to neutralize multiple mutant strains.

“To date, we have found consistent coverage of all strains tested,” said the Pfizer spokesman.

The two companies are now generating data on how well people vaccinated with the vaccine might be able to fight off the new strain from the UK

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In addition to the strain found in England, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Wednesday that another variation of the virus had been detected in two people who had contact with cases stemming from recent trips to South Africa.

Hancock said the new variant is “very worrying” because it is “even more transmissible and appears to have mutated further than the new variant discovered in the UK”.

While researchers continue to investigate the potential effects of the new variant, the UK has quarantined those with new cases and close contacts with cases discovered in the UK and immediately restricted travel from South Africa.

“Anyone in the UK who has been to South Africa in the past fourteen days, and anyone who is in close contact with someone who has been in South Africa in the past fourteen days, must be quarantined immediately,” he said, adding, that he has to restrict all contact “With any person, whatever.”

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According to the latest update from Johns Hopkins University, the United States has exceeded 18.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 328,000 Americans dying from COVID-19.

Kayla Rivas and Alexandra Hein from Fox News contributed to this report