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UPDATE 1-France tightens coronavirus border controls, introduces earlier curfew

15 Jan 2021 / 01:52 H.

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    PARIS, Jan 14 (Reuters) - France will strengthen border controls and bring forward its night curfew by two hours to 6 p.m. as it tries to slow the spread of coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday.

    The revised national curfew will come into effect on Saturday, Castex told a news conference. From Monday all travellers coming to France from outside the European Union will have to show a negative COVID-19 test and self-isolate for a week upon arrival.

    Castex said the government would do all it could to avoid shutting down schools but that if the epidemic got out of hand it would put the country back under lockdown.

    France's coronavirus death toll is edging towards 70,000, the seventh highest toll in the world.

    The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital has been stable at 24,000 to 25,500 for five weeks. But health officials are worried by the more-transmissible variant first detected in Britain, which now accounts for about 1% of new cases in France.

    "We must do everything to prevent this variant from spreading in France," Health Minister Olivier Veran told the press conference. (Reporting by Geert de clercq, Dominique Vidalon and Matthias Blamont Writing by Richard Lough Editing by Susan Fenton and Frances Kerry)

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