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France, Germany confirm cases of British coronavirus variant

Both cases are mild and isolating

SAMAA | - Posted: Dec 26, 2020 | Last Updated: 1 year ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Dec 26, 2020 | Last Updated: 1 year ago

Photo: AFP

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France has confirmed the first case of a new coronavirus variant that recently emerged in Britain, its health ministry said, after Germany announced its first case on Thursday. 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 living in Britain who arrived from London on December 19, is asymptomatic and self-isolating at home in Tours in central France, the ministry said late Friday. They were tested in 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. 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. Germany's case was a woman who flew in from London. The woman had arrived in Frankfurt airport on December 20 from London Heathrow. "It is the first known case in Germany," the health ministry of Baden-Wuerttemberg state said in a statement. She was driven home by her relatives into quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19 on arrival at the airport. A day later, she began showing mild symptoms and a second test also turned up positive.  A sample of her swab test was sent to a specialised laboratory for further analysis. "Today the virus variant B.1.1.7 was detected there," added the German ministry. Health authorities have carried out contact-tracing for the health professionals taking care of the patient, the ministry said in a statement. Germany on Tuesday extended a ban on arrivals from the United Kingdom until January 6 after the new strain, which British authorities say is more infectious, appeared there. Borders closed On Monday, France's health minister Olivier Veran had admitted that it was possible 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 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 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. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the new viral strain "may be up to 70% more transmissible than the original version of the disease". Ahead of Christmas British health minister Matt Hancock announced the expansion of strict lockdown measures across further parts of the south of England to contain the spread of the disease.   With more than 68,000 deaths from the virus, the United Kingdom is one of the hardest hit countries in Europe.
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France has confirmed the first case of a new coronavirus variant that recently emerged in Britain, its health ministry said, after Germany announced its first case on Thursday.

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 living in Britain who arrived from London on December 19, is asymptomatic and self-isolating at home in Tours in central France, the ministry said late Friday. They were tested in 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.

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.

Germany’s case was a woman who flew in from London. The woman had arrived in Frankfurt airport on December 20 from London Heathrow.

“It is the first known case in Germany,” the health ministry of Baden-Wuerttemberg state said in a statement.

She was driven home by her relatives into quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19 on arrival at the airport. A day later, she began showing mild symptoms and a second test also turned up positive. 

A sample of her swab test was sent to a specialised laboratory for further analysis.

“Today the virus variant B.1.1.7 was detected there,” added the German ministry.

Health authorities have carried out contact-tracing for the health professionals taking care of the patient, the ministry said in a statement.

Germany on Tuesday extended a ban on arrivals from the United Kingdom until January 6 after the new strain, which British authorities say is more infectious, appeared there.

Borders closed

On Monday, France’s health minister Olivier Veran had admitted that it was possible 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 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 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.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the new viral strain “may be up to 70% more transmissible than the original version of the disease”.

Ahead of Christmas British health minister Matt Hancock announced the expansion of strict lockdown measures across further parts of the south of England to contain the spread of the disease.  

With more than 68,000 deaths from the virus, the United Kingdom is one of the hardest hit countries in Europe.

 
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