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The Telegraph

Dunkirk Covid-19 outbreak offers bleak window into future as France vaccine programme lags

The French city of Dunkirk had long prided itself on being the main port of entry for Britons into Europe, and welcoming scores of British tourists to its beaches and wine shops. But in February, its proximity to Britain, where a more contagious variant of Covid-19 has spread like wildfire, quickly triggered a health crisis. «We’re an important point of entry into Europe for Britain. This time it did not work out well for us,» Thomas Roussez, from the city hall, told the Telegraph. «We did not manage to detect [the variant] early enough. When we realised it we were already on very high rates,» he added. All eyes in France are now fixed on Dunkirk and other similar hotspots like Nice. Panicked health officials are warning that the overwhelmed hospitals and rising epidemic is a window into what is to come for the rest of the country as the vaccination programme is in disarray. The jarring glimpse is a stark warning for Emmanuel Macron, the French president, who has faced increasing pressure to bring in new restrictions just as the UK is planning for its grand reopening. It is a conundrum present across much of the continent, acutely felt in Central Europe where case rises are on the march once again. Dinkirk’s first cases of the so-called Kent variant are believed to have reached the city through truck drivers coming from Britain. Quickly, the city of 90,000 had the highest incidence rate of Covid-19 in the country. Dunkirk’s Covid-19 rate has risen from 658 to 901 cases per 100,000 of the population in a week, more than four times the national average.

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