PARIS

France on Saturday detected the first case of deadly virus variant in a French national returning from the United Kingdom. 

The country’s health ministry confirmed the first case of VOC 202012/01 variant of the COVID-19.

The French man, a resident of the UK, had arrived from London on Dec. 19, hours before Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced lockdown measures after detecting the new variant in the south-east of England and resulting in snap closure of borders by the EU countries. The case was identified in the city of Tours on Friday where the patient is currently isolated and is asymptomatic, the ministry said in a statement.

Health authorities are currently carrying out “contact tracing” of the health professionals who were treating the patient and of those from his family or others he might have come in contact with.

The ministry informed that France has set up a system for detecting and monitoring cases of the new variant for sequencing of positive PCR test results for a person returning from the United Kingdom and South Africa, where another variant of SARS-CoV-2 is currently circulating actively.

According to the latest figures, more than 20,000 new cases and 159 deaths were confirmed in the last 24 hours. A total of 24,392 patients are currently hospitalized.

Meanwhile, the first doses of the Pfizer/BionNTech vaccine arrived Saturday for the inoculation drive scheduled to begin from Dec. 27.

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