France detects first case of new coronavirus variant

France detected the country’s first case of the new coronavirus strain that prompted fresh lockdown measures in Britain and global travel bans, health authorities said Friday.

A Frenchman living in London arrived in France on December 19 and tested positive for the new variant Friday, the French public health agency said in a statement.

He had no symptoms and was isolating in his home in the central city of Tours.

Authorities were tracing the person’s contacts and laboratories were analysing tests from several other people who may have the new variant, the statement said.

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.

On Friday, France reported 20,262 new coronavirus cases and 159 more related deaths in hospitals in the last 24 hours.

France’s national vaccination campaign is due to start on Sunday, along with other EU countries.

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