France Confirms 1st Case of UK COVID Variant in London Returnee

The first French case was found in a citizen who arrived from London on 19 December.

Updated
World
2 min read
France has confirmed the first case of a new coronavirus variant that recently emerged in Britain.
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France has confirmed the first case of a new coronavirus variant that recently emerged in Britain, French news agency AFP reproted.

According to the French Health Ministry, the new strain of the virus, which experts fear is more contagious, has prompted more than 50 countries to impose travel restrictions on the UK.

The first French case – found in a citizen who arrived from London on 19 December – is asymptomatic and is self-isolating at home in Tours in central France, the ministry said late Friday. According to the report, he was tested at a hospital on December 21, and later found positive for the strain.

Health authorities have carried out contact-tracing for the health professionals taking care of the patient, the ministry said in a statement. Any of their contacts that were seen as vulnerable would similarly be isolated, it said.

In addition to the first case, several other positive samples that "may suggest the VOC 202012/01 variant are being sequenced" by the specialist laboratories of the national Pasteur Institute, the statement added.

On Monday, France's Health Minister Olivier Veran had admitted that it was possible that the newly discovered strain was already in the country.

Italian authorities have detected the new strain in a patient in Rome, while the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that nine cases have been detected in Denmark and one each in the Netherlands and Australia.

Following the snap 48-hour ban this week, France had reopened its borders to the UK – partly to allow French citizens to return home, as well as to relieve the massive build-up of freight goods – but had instituted a testing policy.

France's interior ministry said on Thursday that limits on travel from the UK will continue "until at least 6 January".

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