French travel ban blasted as BBC reporter hails UK system superior

A BBC reporter has taken aim at the French travel ban on UK citizens, claiming that the move has been miscalculated as the testing system in France is not up to par with that of the UK. On location in the French ski resort of Chamonix, the BBC’s Southern Europe correspondent Mark Lowen said the cases in the country are “probably much higher than declared”.

While the current number of cases involving the new strain seems to be much lower in France than in the UK, Lowen explained how testing and sequencing rates in Britain are “superior” to France’s so a ban does not paint a complete picture.

The discussion comes amid the French government insisting that Brits have a “compelling reason” to travel over to the country over fears surrounding the spread of the Omicron variant. Mr Lowen said: “There is an argument that British sequencing is simply superior to that of France”, which then translates into more cases on paper. He added that the move by France to “pull up the drawbridge quickly” and enforce the French travel ban was to allow the booster campaign in the country to catch up and tackle the rising cases.

Mr Lowen said that despite the excessive measures, hospitals in France are already filling up with Covid-19 patients.

The French travel ban was enforced from midnight on Friday 17 December, sending holiday plans out of the window for Christmas, and causing hours of chaos at the Port of Dover. Thousands of holidaymakers rushed to the port to try and get into France before the deadline hit causing backed-up traffic and angry exchanges, reported The Express.

One commuter who was stuck in the middle of the crazy scenes tweeted: “I’ve been stuck in standstill traffic at Dover for well over 3 hours now; my ferry was due to depart at 22.50. Does this mean I will have missed it or will I be put on the next available ferry? Please advise, I’m very stressed!”

The French Prime Minister spoke about the Omicron variant as he enforced the French travel ban. Jean Castex said: It does not seem to be more dangerous than the Delta variant and the data available to us indicates that complete vaccination coverage with the booster dose protects well against severe forms of the disease.”


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Claire Gordon

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