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Coronavirus: France detects new variant in Brittany

March 16, 2021

A new coronavirus variant has reportedly emerged in France as health authorities struggle to contain a rise in COVID-19 cases. President Emmanuel Macron said new measures are on the way.

Doctors care for a Covid-19 patient in the ICU ward at Timone Hospital in Marseille, France, on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020.
According to the health ministry, the variant was found in a cluster of cases in a hospital center in LannionImage: Theo Giacometti/Getty Images

French authorities detected a new coronavirus variant in the northwestern region of Brittany, the health ministry said in a statement late Monday. 

The announcement came as the French healthcare system battles a resurgence in coronavirus cases. 

The French health ministry said the new variant did not appear to be more severe or transmissible than others, based on the initial analysis.

"In-depth investigations are underway to better understand this variant and its impact. Experiments will also take place to determine how this variant reacts to vaccination and to the antibodies developed during previous infections," the statement read.  

France expects new COVID containment measures

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday there would be new decisions made in the upcoming days on how to contain the resurgence in cases.  

The president stressed the importance of protecting the most vulnerable in society while also protecting the economy, the education system and people's mental health.

The French government has tried to avoid entering a third nationwide lockdown. Authorities have instead imposed curfews and weekend restrictions. 

According to media reports, officials expect a new lockdown in the Paris region, as intensive care units are running out of beds amid an increase in daily recorded cases and a slow vaccine rollout.  Health authorities have started transferring patients from Paris hospitals to other cities. 

On Monday, France recorded the highest level of rising in coronavirus cases in ICUs since November, with 4,219 admissions in 24 hours. 

France has also halted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine , following suit with other countries over reports of blood clotting complications. 

fb/wmr (AFP, Reuters)

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