France is considering stricter controls on British travelers to combat the spread of India’s variant of Covid
France could impose stricter restrictions on British travelers to curb the spread of India’s contagious variant of Covid-19. Jean Yves-Le Drian, the country’s foreign minister, told the French radio station RTL on Sunday that the government would not rule out “somewhat stricter” measures for visitors from the United Kingdom. “We are concerned about the Indian variant and are working with the UK authorities to remain on high alert on this matter,” said Le Drian. Although there was no official announcement, Le Drian said it could mean the UK would be classified as a medium risk country, referring to the color-coded traffic light system used to determine what quarantine and other restrictions travelers fall into. Mr Le Drian did not say the UK would be classified as a “red” country, but suggested that it be considered a “yellow” country. The news comes just a day after the German Ministry of Health announced that the UK is an “area of mixed concern”. From Sunday at midnight, only German citizens and residents from Great Britain are allowed to enter the country. Others will be turned away unless they have a substantial reason for the trip. More than 3,850 cases of the Indian variant have been identified in the UK, with new cases increasing by 160 percent in the past seven days. A paper presented to the UK government earlier this month stated that the Indian variant could be up to 50 percent more transmissible than the original variety. “At this point in the vaccine rollout, there are still too few adults vaccinated to prevent a significant resurgence that could ultimately put unsustainable pressure on the NHS,” the paper said. Despite the potentially increased risk of portability, some health experts said travel restrictions would do little to prevent the spread of new varieties. “Closing the border will have no impact,” said Catherine Hill, epidemiologist at Gustave Roussy Hospital in Paris. She said that people who are determined to travel will find ways to bypass restrictions, such as flying to nearby countries and then getting on a train or bus. “It’s just meaningless. If travelers really want to go to their elderly parents, or if they really want to meet a friend, they will find a way, “said Hill, adding that for now there was” no reason for serious alarm “about the Indian variant. Initial evidence suggests that vaccines against the Indian variant are still effective. So far, there have been very few confirmed cases of the Indian variant in France, but health experts fear it will spread. The French health department recorded 38 new outbreaks in the past seven days, a 60 percent increase from the previous week. Three of the outbreaks came from family clusters with no known connection to India, meaning it is unclear whether they spread on French soil. At the moment, the French health department came to the conclusion that there is “no evidence of significant community expansion” in France yet.