France has confirmed the first case of the new coronavirus variant that recently emerged in Britain. The French citizen, who had recently returned from the United Kingdom, has tested positive for the new strain of the coronavirus, the BFMTV broadcaster reported on late Friday, citing the national Health Ministry. The man is asymptomatic and is currently undergoing self-isolation at home.
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 this 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.
Meanwhile, France has partly reopened its borders to the UK following the snap 48-hour ban this week. The country is only allowing French citizens to return home, as well as to relieve the massive build-up of freight goods, but has instituted a testing policy.
France’s interior ministry said Thursday that limits on travel from the UK will continue “until at least January 6”.
For now, only citizens of France or the EU, those with residency rights there, or business travellers are allowed to make the crossing from the UK — if they can show a negative COVID-19 test less than three days old.
The new strain of the coronavirus was firstly detected in the United Kingdom last week. This virus is 70 per cent more transmissible than other SARS-CoV-2 variants.
On Friday, the World Health Organization said that the new type of coronavirus had been already registered in eight European countries.