France’s prime minister has announced the suspension of all flights between Brazil and France amid concerns over coronavirus variants
ByThe Associated Press
April 13, 2021, 3:19 PM
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PARIS -- France suspended all flights from Brazil on Tuesday amid mounting fears over the particularly contagious coronavirus variant that has been sweeping the South American country.
Prime Minister Jean Castex announced the suspension to parliament.
“We note that the situation is getting worse and so we have decided to suspend all flights between Brazil and France until further notice," Castex said.
Although France has seen comparatively few known cases of the P.1 variant striking Brazil, the ravages it is causing in Latin America’s largest nation are increasingly raising alarm bells in France.
Castex noted that travelers from Brazil already needed to test negative for the virus before their departure and upon arrival in France, and also quarantine for 10 days. But the government has also been facing mounting calls from health experts for a flight suspension to further limit potential spread.
Castex's announcement drew scattered applause in parliament.
Boris Vallaud, a lawmaker for the opposition Socialists, called the flight suspension “necessary and a very good decision.”
France has had 5.1 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, the highest number in Europe, and has seen over 99,000 people die in the pandemic. The country is struggling with another wave of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations that is straining hospitals in Paris and elsewhere.
To curb France’s surge in infections, restrictions on travel and movement are enforced nationwide, on top of an overnight curfew. Schools have been closed for at least three weeks.
French Health Minister Olivier Veran told parliament that a variant which first swept through Britain before spreading to continental Europe is now responsible for about 80% of infections in France and that the variants first seen in Brazil and South Africa make up less than 4% of French infections.
“Proportionally, we are seeing a retreat of these variants because they are less contagious than the English one," Veran said.
Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine