France has announced its first confirmed cases of the virus variant that is sweeping over India, just as the French president outlined a national reopening plan after six months of virus restrictions.
The Health Ministry announced late Thursday night that three people tested positive for the new variant in the Bouches-du-Rhone and Lot et Garonne regions of southern France. All three had travelled to India, and are under medical observation.
Authorities are seeking to trace their contacts and investigating other suspected cases, the ministry said. It noted that the variant has been detected in at least six other European countries.
France last week stepped up virus controls for travellers arriving from India as well as some other countries where variants are spreading.
The announcement came as French President Emmanuel Macron laid out a four-stage reopening process aimed at boosting the economy, welcoming back tourists and lifting nearly all of France’s virus restrictions by June 30.
The vast majority of France’s virus cases now involve the more contagious, more dangerous variant first identified in Britain. France has reported one of the worlds highest virus death tolls, at more than 103,000 deaths.