In parts of France, up to 40% of new cases are the Brazilian and South African variants of the coronavirus which are more resistant to vaccines.
Boris Johnson is reportedly facing pressure from two of his top advisers – Chris Whitty and Jonathan Van-Tam – to impose tighter border controls to prevent the introduction of variants into the country.
England Department chief medical officer Professor Van-Tam told MPs on Tuesday that 68% of people arriving from France – mostly truck drivers – are exempt from quarantine due to existing rules in England. to maintain the flow of goods.
An MP who attended the briefing told The Times: “Anyone on this call would understand that they think the ‘red list’ needs to be expanded. France is the one that keeps coming back, but Germany is also mentioned due to the growing number of variants. ”
Prof Van-Tam and Prof Whitty, the chief medical officer, urged the prime minister to impose tighter border controls to prevent the importation of mutant strains, the newspaper reported.
Experts are “very worried” because the majority of arrivals from France are exempt from quarantine measures, it is said.
Ministers are said to be in “advanced” talks to implement rapid Covid-19 tests for truck drivers arriving in the UK in an effort to keep mutant strains at bay.
But government sources told The Times that adding France to the “red list” of countries – requiring all arrivals to be quarantined – would be “disproportionate”.
Earlier this week, it emerged Mr Johnson was facing pressure to add France to the ‘red list’ of countries that require quarantine for arrivals.
People arriving from 35 ‘red list’ countries, including Brazil and South Africa, must be quarantined in a hotel for 10 days at a cost of £ 1,750.
No European country is on the list, despite a third wave of cases crossing countries like France, Italy and Germany.
The Prime Minister has warned Britons of the potential for a third wave of the virus in the UK, and told those looking to go on summer holidays abroad that travel “certainly looks difficult at the moment”.
Professor Whitty told reporters this week that the government failed last year to stop a “massive importation” of cases from France, Italy and Spain as infections soar in those countries .
Some experts have said that a third wave in the UK is inevitable once the company is unlocked, with some predicting it could pass through Britain this summer and others predicting another wave in the fall or winter.