France Records First Case of New Coronavirus Variant

French health officials say the country has recorded its first case of the new COVID-19 variant that has led to new lockdowns in Britain and global travel restrictions on British residents.The French health ministry said a Frenchman who had been living in England and returned to France tested positive for the new variant in the central French city of Tours. It said the man had no symptoms and was isolating in his home.Some other countries have also reported cases of the new variant, including Japan, which announced its first cases Friday. Japan’s health ministry said five people who arrived between Dec. 18 and Dec. 21 tested positive for coronavirus and were sent to quarantine straight from the airports. Officials said further analysis showed they had contracted the new variant of the coronavirus.British authorities have said the new coronavirus variant appears more contagious and may have led to a spike in COVID-19 cases, leading countries around the world to restrict travel from Britain.France banned all passengers and cargo from Britain for two days, leading to major traffic problems around the British port of Dover. British transport minister Grant Shapps said more than 4,500 trucks crossed the Channel on Friday after more troops were deployed to speed up coronavirus testing.Russia announced Friday that travelers from Britain must quarantine for two weeks after entering the country. Russia had previously suspended direct flights from Britain.U.S. authorities announced on Thursday that passengers arriving from Britain must test negative for COVID-19 before departure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the new requirement is effective beginning Monday.In another development Friday, Pope Francis said in his Christmas message that COVID-19 vaccines must be available to all and called on political and business leaders to “promote cooperation, not competition” in the distribution of them.A mother and child look at the line of trucks parked up on the M20, part of Operation Stack in Ashford, Kent, England, Dec. 25, 2020.In Israel, the government announced it would impose its third nationwide lockdown beginning Sunday to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The new restrictions will last for two weeks.Health officials in China’s northeastern port city of Dalian are testing millions of residents after seven new coronavirus cases were reported there in the past 24 hours. Authorities there have ordered anyone except essential workers to stay home.South Korea, Japan and Indonesia recorded their highest daily increases in coronavirus cases Friday as a third wave of COVID-19 hit the countries.In South Korea 70% of the more than 1,200 new cases were in the greater Seoul area, where half the country’s 52 million people live.In Japan, with 884 cases reported Friday nationwide, Tokyo had the largest number of infections.Indonesia reported its biggest daily rise in deaths, with 258 fatalities and 7,259 infections, bringing the country’s total numbers to 20,847and 700,097, respectively.

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