Virgin Atlantic, British Airways (BA) and Delta Air Lines will require all passengers from the UK to test Covid-19 negative before boarding flights to New York.

The three major airlines, which fly from the UK to the New York airports, have voluntarily agreed to testing following a request from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The new measure is in response to concerns about a ‘highly contagious’ new strain of Covid-19 seen in the UK.

Governor Cuomo said: “We have an agreement now with the 3 airlines that fly from the UK to the New York airports: Virgin, Delta and British Airways airlines that are flying into New York from the UK that have all agreed that they will test people before they get on the flight in the UK en route to New York.”

“The people who now fly into New York will be negative, but we’ll have flights into Chicago, we’ll have flights into other parts of the country and then those people can get on flights and come back to New York or infect other states.

“This whole notion that any one state can protect itself was foolish from the beginning. New York has one of the lowest infection rates in the United States, but that doesn’t stop the virus from coming in from other states.”

British Airways will implement the procedures from 22 December, while Virgin Atlantic and its partner Delta will start from 24 December, reported CNBC.

Meanwhile, several dozens of countries around the world have suspended all flights from and to Great Britain over worries about the new Covid-19 variant.