Cluster of UK variant identified in Marseille

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PARIS – The discovery of “a few clusters” of the British variant of the COVID-19 virus has sounded the alarm in France over the rapid spread, particularly in the second largest city of Marseille, where authorities have declared an epidemic.
“From now on, every minute counts to stop the spread. We must react immediately to contain, ”announced Sunday Benoît Payan, Mayor of Marseille, declaring health measures as soon as a cluster is detected in the Bouches-du-Rhône department.

About 45 contact persons were identified as having come into contact with patient zero of whom 23 tested positive. The British variant has been confirmed in eight people.

The variant was identified for the first time in a French national belonging to a family of 5, underwent a screening test by RT-PCR on December 31, at the Institut Hospitalier Universitaire de Marseille which identified that it was ‘was the COVID-19 variant from the UK. , confirms a statement from regional health authorities. The family residing and working in the UK had returned to France during the year-end vacation.

Payan announced that a team of 40 marine firefighters divided into two mobile biological response cells and 10 rapid result test units have been deployed for emergency contact, environmental and sewage testing. . “We need to trace, test and isolate every person who is potentially a carrier of the variant. The faster we can trace, the faster we can isolate and prevent the spread of this very virulent virus, ”he said.

Firefighters will take surface samples of wastewater from residential sites of people who test positive, to identify the presence and suggest exposure of residents to the virus. Depending on the results of these samples, screenings may be offered to people potentially exposed to COVID-19, the health statement said.

During the preliminary surface test carried out on five addresses, 30 residents of the building were tested after the premises “revealed traces of COVID”, of which at least two were positive, detailed Payan.

In light of the cluster, Bouches-du-Rhône and seven other departments will apply an advanced curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Another case of the British variant has also been highlighted in the Hautes-Alpes department, also in a French family residing in the United Kingdom who came to stay in France during the end-of-year holidays. This person and his risky contact cases are being placed in isolation, authorities informed.

The Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, in an interview with Europe 1 / Cnews / Les Echos admitted that “a few clusters” of the variant have been identified in France and that all measures have been taken to prevent its spread. “The virus is a priori sensitive to the vaccine but it is more contagious”, he declared.

Veran added that the circulation of the COVID-19 virus was “high” in the country with 18,000 cases per day on average and more than 1,000 hospitalizations per day. He said the number of intensive care patients was no longer decreasing.

He did, however, express his hope for the COVID vaccination campaign which gained momentum after a slow start. On Sunday 1,046,000 people received the blow and Veran said at the end of January, “more than a million French people have been vaccinated”.
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