France Confirms First Case Of British Virus Variant

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A system for detecting and monitoring possible cases of infection or carriage of the VOC 202012/01 variant has been set up by Public Health France and the National Reference Centers, in conjunction with the analysis laboratories.

The initial French case - uncovered in a citizen dwelling in Britain who arrived from London on December 19 - is asymptomatic and self-isolating at house in Tours in central France, the ministry said late on Friday.

He now has no symptoms and is isolating at his house.

The British announcement on December 19 prompted countries around the world to suspend flights from the United Kingdom, and France banned all passengers and cargo from Britain for two days, causing massive traffic problems around the Port of Dover.

As the test result suggests the variant circulating in the United Kingdom, sequencing has been requested from the National Respiratory Infection Viruses Reference Center, which has so far confirmed infection with the VOC variant 202012/01.

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"The health authorities have carried out contact screening for the health professionals who treated this patient and for the closest contacts to achieve his prophylactic isolation", says the French Ministry of Health.

Some other European countries have also reported cases of the new variant, which British authorities said appears more contagious and was spreading fast.

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.

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

France registered 20,262 new, confirmed Covid-19 cases and 159 more related deaths in hospitals in the last 24 hours.

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