Published: 21st December 2020
New Coronavirus strain could already be circulating in France: Health Minister
France will perform genotype analysis, as it regularly does, to determine if the virus exists in the country, the minister added
A new, more contagious, coronavirus strain could already be circulating in France, although it has not showed up yet in genotype tests results, French Health Minister Olivier Veran said Monday.
The United Kingdom said last week that there was a new strain of the virus, more contagious that the other ones. In the UK itself, the highest, fourth level of alert was introduced in some areas, and Christmas relaxations of COVID measures were reduced or recalled. Switzerland, Turkey, Estonia, Belgium, the Netherlands and several other countries have suspended air travel with the UK or are considering it. France suspended all travel with the United Kingdom for 48 hours.
"It is entirely possible that the virus is already circulating in France," Veran said in an interview with Europe 1 broadcaster. France will perform genotype analysis, as it regularly does, to determine if the virus exists in the country, the minister added.
"In the last several days, 500 virus strains have been analysed and this particular version has not been found. Which does not mean it's not there," Veran said.
For now, there is no reason to think that the virus will be resistant to the vaccines that have already been developed. the minister said.
Suspension of travel is justified by the "principle of precaution since there is a doubt," the minister said.
"The goals are not to scare [people] but to make the right decisions at the right moment," Veran said.