France could be added to UK's travel ban list due to soaring cases of South African variant

FRANCE could be added to the UK's travel ban list due to soaring Covid cases, particularly of the South African strain.

Last week, the country reported 35,000 new Covid cases in one day with as many as 10 per cent being the South African variant.

The Covid strain, which is 70 per cent more transmissible than the original coronavirus variant, spreads faster and is less easily controlled by typical Covid restrictions.

According to The Times, government ministers are in discussion whether to add it to the list, with one cabinet member saying: “If there is another spike in Europe and it’s at rampant levels, we don’t want to bring it back here.”

Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, said last week: "Perhaps more concern for the UK though is that some countries are notably seeing a significant fraction, 5-10 per cent of cases, of the South African variant.

“When infection levels go up in France, 30,000 cases a day, that implies there’s at least 1,500-2,000 cases a day of the South African variant.

“That is the variant we really do want to keep out of the UK."

If France is added to the list, this means all travel will be banned to the country, and anyone returning to the UK will have to pay £1,750 to quarantine for 10 days at a government-mandated hotel.

It comes just days after French officials opened up the nation to arrivals from a list of nations that had been banned from making non-essential journeys.

Travellers no longer need a “compelling reason” to come from the UK, along with Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, and Singapore.

Social Care Minister Helen Whately said families should be ‘cautious’ until at least next month when the government will announce when a foreign trips can go ahead.

She told BBC Breakfast this morning: “I know everybody feels like it’s time for a holiday. We all need that.

“My advice would be to anybody right now is just to hold off on booking international travel.

“The Prime Minister launched a taskforce to look specifically at international travel. That will be reporting back shortly. It just feels premature to be booking international travel at the moment.”

She added: “As anybody can see, we are in a situation where there are rising rates in many countries in Europe.

“We know also something that comes with rising rates is increased risk of variants that’s why it’s so important that we are going to be able to test more rapidly for variants of concern. So I would say to people just hold off.”

Here is the full list of countries currently on the UK's travel ban list.

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