COVID-19: France discovers its first case of new coronavirus variant

France has reported its first confirmed case of the new coronavirus variant which was first discovered in the UK, the country’s health ministry has said.

The case is a French citizen who lives in England and had left London for Tours, France, on 19 December.

He is currently self-isolating at home and is said to be doing fine.

The new variant, dubbed VUI-202012/01, has worried experts and global leaders as it is thought to be up to 70% more transmissible – meaning it can spread much faster.

After the variant was identified in southeast England, countries across the world soon scrambled to close their borders to the UK and prevent it from reaching their citizens.

France imposed some of the strictest travel restrictions on UK travellers, preventing hauliers from crossing the Channel in the run-up to Christmas and causing chaos at the Port of Dover.

On Tuesday evening, the UK and French governments reached an agreement allowing rail, air and sea services to resume for French citizens or residents, or for urgent reasons such as hauliers transporting goods.

They are now allowed to cross the border if they have a negative coronavirus test.

However, the new variant case discovered by French health authorities entered France before the travel ban was imposed.

Earlier this week, French health minister Olivier Veran admitted it was “entirely possible” the new variant was already circulating in the country, despite officials having found no evidence at the time.

Cases of the new variant have also been confirmed in Denmark, Italy, Gibraltar, the Netherlands and Australia.

Although it is believed to spread faster, there is no evidence so far that the new variant causes more serious illness or is able to evade vaccines.

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