Alarm in French Alps after British tourists test positive for Covid

At least 14 members of a group of British tourists staying at a resort in the French Alps have tested positive for Covid-19, local officials said Friday, despite showing negative tests upon their arrival in the country.

Alarm in French Alps after British tourists test positive for Covid
Ski lifts have remained closed in France the whole winter due to Covid-19. Photo: AFP

Further tests are now being carried out to see if the tourists are infected with the faster-spreading mutation of the virus believed to have originated in England, which has caused concern across Europe.

The regional ARS health authority told AFP that all 26 members of the group had undergone tests and 14 were so far positive, with other results still to come in.

The group, which according to French media are British students, have been in quarantine in their accommodation in the resort of Vallorcine, near the French Alpine hub of Chamonix, with police making sure their isolation is being respected.

No one has been hospitalised so far and the self-isolation rules are being respected, the local prefecture added. A substantial effort of contract-tracing is also underway to prevent the spread of the cluster.

LATEST: France announces Covid test requirement for arrivals by air or sea from EU

Regional health authorities are also investigating whether the group travelled directly from the UK to the resort or not. According to France Bleu some of them had taken a TGV high speed train between Lille and Lyon before arriving in Haute-Savoie.

So far just one to two percent of coronavirus cases in France are believed to have been caused by the fast-spreading variant, but officials fear it could drastically worsen the health situation.

A new lockdown “would probably become an absolute necessity” if the spread of this variant increased “significantly” in France, Health Minister Olivier Véran warned on Thursday.

The purpose of the group's visit or their arrival date was not immediately clear.

Alpine skiing is almost impossible in France at the moment as ski lifts are shut to prevent the spread of the virus. But hotels are open and other winter activities such as snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing are still allowed.

READ ALSO: 'Whole season a write-off' – What next for France's ski resorts?


Member comments

  1. What the hell are they doing on holiday in the middle of a virus outbreak? Don’t these idiots have any brains or respect for other people at all. Don’t forget it was a Britain that brought it to the Alps last year.

  2. Solid, bite your tongue.
    Where does one get data as to how many people get infected from traveling by TGV?

  3. No, I will not. Twats need calling out. Look up ‘pandemic’ and ‘contagious’ in the dictionary.


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Will France’s Covid-19 health pass be consigned to the past?

France suspended but did not cancel the Covid pass in March - but the government has suggested it might not return, even with the country in the grip of the virus’s seventh wave

Will France's Covid-19 health pass be consigned to the past?

Cases of Covid-19 in France have risen 57.8 percent in the past week with daily cases topping the 200,000 mark on Tueday.

The virus’s seventh wave has the country in its grip – but it seems the government has no plans to reintroduce vaccine pass measures.

READ ALSO How serious will France’s seventh wave of Covid-19 be?

The vaccine pass –  itself a two-month development of the old health pass which had been required for entry to certain venues such as bars, restaurants and cafes – was suspended on March 14th, as cases of Covid-19 in France fell. But the health emergency law that enforced it was still in effect and allowed it to be reactivated at any time.

That law runs out on July 31st. Now, it seems the pass will not return. Reports in the French press last month claimed that the health ministry was discussing the possibility of re-imposing some form of pass sanitaire, a bill intended to replace the current health emergency laws makes no mention of it. 

The new president of the National Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet, confirmed this week that the vaccine pass was not included in the new bill, entitled “health monitoring and security”, which will be submitted to the National Assembly for debate from July 11 and will, if passed, come into law on August 1st – the day after the current law expires.

“[It] is not what is planned in the text of the law that will be submitted to parliament this week,” Braun-Pivet said.

Rather, the bill extends epidemic surveillance and contact case identification systems until March 31st, 2023. 

The second provides for the implementation of border control measures – such as requiring visitors to France to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test – if a so-called variant of concern were to spread rapidly abroad, as confirmed by new government spokesman Olivier Véran. 

Currently, most health rules in place at the height of the pandemic have been relaxed. Masks are only required in French hospitals, health centres and places that have vulnerable residents such as nursing homes. They are also recommended in crowded spaces where it is impossible to practice social distancing.

READ ALSO French public urged to wear face masks again on public transport