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France suspends all flights to and from Brazil over Covid variant fears

France is suspending all flights to and from Brazil to curb the spread of a new Covid-19 variant found in the South American country, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Tuesday.

France suspends all flights to and from Brazil over Covid variant fears
Photo: Stephane du Sakatin/AFP

Experts say the Brazilian variant, known as P1, is particularly virulent and partly to blame for a sharp increase in the country’s coronavirus death toll in March.

“We have observed that the situation is worsening and that is why we have decided to suspend all flights between Brazil and France until further notice,” Castex told parliament.

The French overseas département of French Guiana shares a border with Brazil, causing concern to the government over the health situation.

France had previously imposed extra restrictions on travel between France and the UK when the ‘UK variant’ of the virus was first reported in December, but these have since been lifted and since the middle of March travel between the two countries has been allowed for any reason – although the British government still has travel restrictions in place.

France has more relaxed rules for seven non-EU countries, including the UK, Australia and New Zealand, but for the rest of non-EU countries, travel is allowed for essential reasons only.

The limits on who can travel means that transport is limited between these countries, but this is the first time that France has imposed a complete ban on flights.

For the full rules on travel into France from within the EU – click HERE.

And the full rules on non-EU travel – click HERE.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has defied expert advice on containing the pandemic, criticising lockdowns, face masks and vaccines.

But he faces mounting pressure to bring the situation under control amid a brutal new surge of the virus.

Brazil’s Covid infection rate is the highest in the world after the United States and India.

Member comments

  1. This is good in my view and has nothing to do with anything else but safety.

    Travel should have been locked down a year ago to stop (if not slow) the spread. Travelers returning home should have been isolated by the government at military bases rather than allowed to go home and infect families and friends.

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COVID-19

Medical row in France over unauthorised Covid trial

French medical bodies on Sunday called on authorities to punish researcher Didier Raoult for "the largest 'unauthorised' clinical trial ever seen" into the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19.

Medical row in France over unauthorised Covid trial

French medical bodies on Sunday called on authorities to punish researcher Didier Raoult for “the largest ‘unauthorised’ clinical trial ever seen” into the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19.

Raoult, the former head of the IHU Mediterranee research hospital, and his subordinates engaged in “systematic prescription of medications as varied as hydroxychloroquine, zinc, ivermectin and azithromycin to patients suffering from Covid-19… without a solid pharmacological basis and lacking any proof of their effectiveness,” a group of 16 research bodies wrote in an op-ed piece  on daily Le Monde’s website.

The drugs continued to be prescribed “for more than a year after their ineffectiveness had been absolutely demonstrated,” they added.

Endorsement from respected tropical disease specialist Raoult helped push anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine into the public consciousness in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, feeding into its promotion by former US President Donald Trump and Brazil’s then-leader Jair Bolosonaro.

In April, France’s ANSM medications authority said that treatment with hydroxichloroquine “exposes patients to potential side effects that can be serious”.

The doctors’ bodies said Sunday that authorities should take “measures appropriate to the infractions” for the sake of patient safety and “the credibility of French medical research”.

Raoult in March published a “pre-print” study — not yet submitted for scientific peer review — into treatment of more than 30,000 Covid-19 patients.

So far no one has been charged in a probe opened last year by Marseille prosecutors into fraud and unwarranted human testing at the IHU Mediterranee, based in the southern port city.

The government has also requested an investigation into the IHU’s conduct under Raoult’s management following a harsh report from inspectors.

Health Minister Francois Braun told broadcaster RTL on Sunday that he would not comment on an open investigation, but confirmed that the latest study would be included in the probe’s remit.

Raoult retired as a professor in summer 2021 and was replaced at the IHU Mediterrannee last August.

A spokesman said he remained an emeritus professor and was still supervising two doctoral students who began work on their theses before he left.

At the IHU itself, all clinical trials involving humans have been suspended since Raoult’s replacement Pierre-Edouard Fournier took over.

The hospital told AFP it was waiting for the ANSM drug regulator’s word before resuming the trials.

“The IHU has to show it has met expectations” before human testing would be allowed, the ANSM said, without setting out a timeframe.

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