Two clusters of the coronavirus variant first discovered in the UK have been detected in France, the Department of Health said on Thursday. The discovery comes as Prime Minister Jean Castex announced an extension of the border closure between the UK and France.
A total of 19 cases of the variant have been identified in the country, including one cluster in the central French region of Ile-de-France, and the other in Brittany, in the west of the country, the ministry said in a statement.
The border between Britain and France will remain closed “until further notice”, with only specific categories of people able to travel – provided they meet a negative coronavirus test before entering the country – Castex said at a press conference.
“We are now just over 15,000 new cases daily, which is three times the target of 5,000,” Castex said. The increase in infections is worsening from mid-December, he warned.
On December 20, France closed its border with Great Britain after the discovery of a new variant of Covid-19 in the United Kingdom. Two days later, Castex said French citizens, residents and those with a “legitimate reason” can enter as long as they can present proof of a negative Covid-19 test.
The coronavirus has claimed the lives of 66,841 people in France, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Health Authority. A total of 2,727,321 people have been infected with the virus since the start of the pandemic.