France suspends Brazil flights over COVID fearsTuesday, April 13, 2021
PARIS, France (AFP) — 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.
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.
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.
At over 13.5 million, Brazil's total number of COVID infections is the highest in the world after the United States and India.
The P1 variant is still very rare in France, and opposition politicians had demanded that flights be halted so it would not spread further.
"I don't understand why you would keep this air link at a time when French people are locked down," Damien Abad, parliamentary leader of the centre-right Republicans party said.
Castex denied that the government had been too lax, saying arrivals from Brazil already required a negative COVID test to enter France and had to self-quarantine for 10 days.
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