Coronavirus: France infections surge at post-lockdown record rate as country could be next on quarantine list
The chancellor tells those planning a holiday “if we need to take action… we will of course not hesitate to do that”.
The number of people with coronavirus in France has risen at the fastest rate since lockdown ended in the country.
New COVID-19 infections rose by 2,288 on Friday, the third day that the number has gone up significantly – putting the nation at levels not seen since late May.
It comes after Britons preparing to visit France were warned there is “always the risk of disruption to travel plans” amid speculation the country could be next on the UK’s quarantine list due to the spike in coronavirus cases.
On Thursday, the UK added Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas to its quarantine list, meaning arrivals from those countries after 4am on Saturday will need to self-isolate for 14 days. The government is also advising against non-essential travel to these destinations.
Asked what the thousands of holidaymakers in France and the countless preparing to visit should do, Chancellor Rishi Sunak admitted it is a “tricky situation”.
“What I can say to people is we’re in the midst of a global pandemic and that means there is always the risk of disruption to travel plans and people need to bear that in mind,” he told Sky News@Breakfast.
“It’s the right thing for us to do to keep everything under review on a constant basis, talking with our scientists and medical advisers.
“And if we need to take action as you’ve seen overnight, we will of course not hesitate to do that and we’re doing that to protect people’s health.
“In the meantime people should look at the guidance and take everything into account and make a decision they think is best.”
On Thursday infections in France rose by more than 1,600 over a 24-hour period for a second day.
French health ministry adviser Jerome Salomon said: “The virus continues to circulate very actively worldwide.
There is a very clear upwards trend in France and Europe.”
Travel consultant Paul Charles had told The Times: “It is vital that France gets its case numbers down over the next five days if it is to avoid the government adding it to its quarantine list.”
Several southern cities near the Belgian border have recently brought in firmer rules on face coverings.
The French health authority reported cases of coronavirus are up by 33% in the week up to August 6, and infection rates are increasing in all age groups, particularly 20 to 30-year-olds.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned last month there are “signs of a second wave” brewing in Europe.
But the World Health Organisation says such talk is unhelpful, with a spokesperson insisting: “We are in the first wave. It’s going to be one big wave.”