Stay or go? Britons in France face COVID-19 dilemma after 2-week quarantine

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LONDON: Half a million Britons on holiday in France were faced with the choice of rushing home or staying put on Friday August 14, after the UK announced a two-week COVID-19 quarantine for travelers from La Manche.

The announcement comes as French authorities fight a spike in new infections and is likely to trigger a mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of tourists before the measure begins early on Saturday.

France is one of many countries currently facing a second wave of resurgence cases since the new disease emerged in China late last year, claiming more than 750,000 lives and wreaking havoc on the global economy.

“The indicators are bad, the signals are worrying and the situation is deteriorating… The fate of the epidemic is in our hands,” the head of the country’s national health agency, Jérôme Salomon, told France Inter.

READ: COVID-19 cases in France at their highest for four months, health system holds firm

Britain initially imposed a general quarantine on all visitors arriving in the country, but then carved out “travel lanes” which exempted travelers arriving from certain countries from having to isolate themselves.

It reintroduced self-isolation for travelers arriving from Spain at the end of July. France and the Netherlands were among several European destinations removed from the list of travel corridors on Friday.

“If you arrive in the UK after 4:00 am Saturday from these destinations you will have to self-isolate for 14 days,” UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps wrote on Twitter.

READ: UK imposes 14-day COVID-19 quarantine on arrivals from France, Netherlands and others

Britain’s Paul Trower told AFP he had decided to interrupt his visit to France after receiving several messages from friends warning him of quarantine measures.

“We looked and tried to book a ferry, canceled our vacation and came home to avoid that because my wife is working and I’m taking care of my granddaughter,” he said.

Tony Samson, also from the UK, said: “I think it’s very sudden. I think it could be a bit more gradual. ”

French holidaymakers in the UK will face a similar dilemma after Paris quickly announced a ‘reciprocal measure’, although it was unclear when it would be imposed.

With more than 41,000 deaths caused by COVID-19, Britain is the most affected country in Europe and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under fire for his handling of the crisis.

NEW STRAIN IN NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand is battling its own second wave of infections and has extended the lockdown of its largest city for at least 12 days, giving health officials more time to trace and contain a previously unknown variant of the virus in the country.

The Pacific island nation’s initial response to the pandemic was hailed as a success, but a 102-day streak with no reported community transmission ended on Tuesday after four family members in Auckland returned positive tests.

The country has now detected a cluster of 30 cases of the virus.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said stay-at-home orders would remain in effect across Auckland until August 26 to prevent a mysterious outbreak from becoming a full-fledged second wave.

Genomic tests have indicated that the latest infections were not the same strain of coronavirus recorded in New Zealand earlier this year.

“This suggests that this is not a case of a dormant virus or a burning embers in our community, it appears to be new to New Zealand,” Ardern said, adding that the tests were unable to link the epidemic to cases among quarantined travelers from abroad. .

READ: New Zealand extends Auckland COVID-19 lockdown amid search for mystery source

In Latin America – the hardest-hit region in the world – Mexico and Peru have passed half a million confirmed infections.

Infections in Peru have also risen sharply since the national lockdown was lifted on July 1, prompting the government to reinstate a Sunday curfew, ban social gatherings and impose mandatory lockdowns in more provinces.

REPORT THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak and its developments

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