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France Adds Russia to Covid Red List

Vladrimi Gerdo / TASS

France on Wednesday added Russia to its list of countries from which non-essential travel is banned, as concern grows over a spike of cases in Moscow due to the Delta variant.

Namibia and the Seychelles are also being added to the "red" list, government spokesman Gabriel Attal told reporters.

Russia, and especially Moscow, have been hard hit by the highly infectious Delta variant first identified in India in recent weeks, a problem compounded by slow take-up of vaccines even though the country has produced its own jabs. 

As it seeks to stop the spread of potentially dangerous variants in the face of an increasingly successful vaccination program, France has divided the world into green, orange and red countries for travel.

There are now no restrictions for vaccinated travellers coming from green countries, which include all the EU as well as a handful of other nations including Australia and the United States.

Most other countries are defined as orange, from where travel is allowed if a traveler is vaccinated and presents a negative Covid test on arrival.

Travel from red list countries – which already included Brazil, India and South Africa – is only allowed on pressing grounds and even then vaccinated travelers must self-isolate for seven days.

There has been concern over the rise of Delta variant cases in the U.K. 

The recent spike in cases there has been far less drastic than in Russia against the background of the rapid vaccination rollout in the UK, where 82% of adults have had at least one jab.

Still hospitalisations and the numbers of patients on mechanical ventilators, while well down from their peak, have crept up in recent weeks. There were 227 people requiring help breathing on June 21, up from 120 a month earlier, NHS data show.

Asked if France was considering adding the U.K. to its red list, Attal said: "We adapt our rules according to the development of the threat. If measures need to be taken for other countries, then we will take them. But at this stage I have no information to communicate."

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