France has expanded a nighttime curfew in Marseille after authorities discovered the new UK strain of the coronavirus in the city.
From Sunday a nationwide curfew that runs from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. will start two hours earlier in Marseille, which joins other French cities such as Strasbourg and Nice in the stricter measures.
“We are doing everything we can to prevent the variants from entering and spreading across our territory,” French health minister Olivier Veran told Europe 1 radio on Sunday.
“We are seeing the situation in England, we are seeing the situation in Scotland, I don’t want that to happen in France.”
Local authorities in Marseille said the decision to extend the curfew was in part due to the discovery in the region of the new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus first found in Britain.
On December 31, one French person living in Britain who had spent the holidays in France tested positive to Covid-19 and was later identified to carry the British variant of the virus.
Out of 45 contacts in the extended family, 23 tested positive and further testing is underway to determine whether they were infected with the variant too.
France is facing a rise in infections with over 20,000 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours and 170 deaths but has so far managed to contain the sharp increases seen in the UK and Germany. A dozen cases of the new strain have been identified in France.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced the closure of the border with Britain announced last month would be extended “until further notice” to avoid the strain spreading.
The French government has come under fierce criticism for the slow start to its vaccination campaign, which it insists is now accelerating. A total of 80,000 people have received jabs in the country, compared to 1.3 million in Britain.
France extends curfew in Marseille as UK Covid variant spreads The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ The Telegraph.