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France detects first case of new coronavirus variant
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 26 - 12 - 2020

The French Health Ministry announced on Friday the detection of the first case of the coronavirus variant that has spread in Britain.
The infected person is French national who has recently returned from the United Kingdom to the French city of Tours (central), where he is subject to home quarantine.
The ministry added that the infected returned from London on Dec. 19 to find out after two days that he had the disease, noting that "this is the first case of a new strain of COVID-19" recorded in France.
The British strain of COVID-19 is more contagious than the original strain of the coronavirus. The new strain has prompted fresh lockdown measures in Britain and global travel bans..
Authorities were tracing the person's contacts and laboratories were analyzing tests from several other people who may have the new variant.
Some other European countries have also reported cases of the new variant, which British authorities said appears 70% more contagious.
The British announcement on December 19 prompted countries around the world to suspend flights from the UK.
France banned all passengers and cargo from Britain for two days, causing massive traffic problems around the British port of Dover.
France reopened the border but now requires anyone entering from Britain to have a test showing they do not have the new variant.
A second partial lockdown sharply curbed France's infections, but they have been again on the rise over the past two weeks. France's national vaccination campaign is due to start on Sunday, along with other EU countries.
The new variant of the pandemic SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that has been spreading rapidly in Britain has been found in Germany, Reuters quoted the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg as saying on Thursday.
The infected person flew to Frankfurt from Britain on Dec. 20 to visit relatives and tested positive upon arrival, the southwestern German state's health ministry said on Twitter.
The person was picked up from the airport by car by family members and has isolated at the family's residence since then, the ministry added.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus meant there would be difficult times ahead, citing the need to control its rapid spread, Reuters reported.
"I know that it's been very, very tough over the last few weeks and I must tell people, it will continue to be difficult, not least basically because of the speed with which the new variant is spreading," Johnson told a news conference.
Over 1,000 UK soldiers deployed
to test stuck truckers in Dover
Some 1,100 British soldiers are spending Christmas Day carrying out COVID-19 tests to clear a huge backlog of truck drivers waiting to cross the Channel to France.
The UK's Ministry of Defense said on Friday that a further 800 military personnel were deployed in Kent "to support an increase in the testing capabilities to help clear the backlog of vehicles and ensure traffic can begin to move at a closer normal pace through Dover."
They add to the 300 soldiers already committed to the task.
"While significant progress has been made, with hundreds of vehicles already departing the UK, there is a need for increased testing as more vehicles continue to arrive every hour," the ministry added.
Britain's Minister of Transport Grant Shapps said on Friday that over 10,000 tests had been carried out and that 24 were positive.
"A huge thank you for the tireless efforts of our troops, police, civilian testers, council planners and port and ferry workers for giving up their Christmas to get people home," he added. — Agencies


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