2.8 C
Skopje
Friday, January 28, 2022

French firefighters arrive in Dover with 10,000 Covid tests for lorry drivers

A team of French firefighters has been sent to Dover with 10,000 coronavirus tests for lorry drivers under a renewed Franco-British mission to let hauliers cross the Channel by Christmas Day.

France’s ambassador to the UK, Catherine Colonna, said the two countries were “neighbours, partners, allies and (yes) friends” and that 26 firefighters had brought thousands of rapid-turnaround tests to the port on Christmas Eve.

A picture posted on Twitter by Colonna – using the hashtags #StrongerTogether and #thursdayvibes – showed the orange-jacketed pompiers carrying out Covid tests on hauliers before dawn on Thursday

The move came as the UK’s transport secretary, Grant Shapps, promised that ferries would sail on Christmas Day and Boxing Day to help unblock the logjam caused by a 48-hour border closure imposed by France in an attempt to stop the new hyper-infective Covid variant from crossing the Channel.

There were rising tensions at the port on Wednesday as lorry drivers, many of whom had been stuck in Dover for more than 48 hours with limited resources, remonstrated with the UK officials.As many as 10,000 lorries were estimated to be backed up around ports on England’s south coast, including at a lorry park at Manston airfield, where 170 army personnel were called in to help with the NHS-led effort to test drivers that got under way on Wednesday morning.

But before sunrise on Christmas Eve, with a momentous Brexit trade deal hours away from being unveiled, a fresh take on Franco-British co-operation emerged in Dover.

The French embassy in the UK tweeted: “26 French firemen have arrived early in #Dover this morning, bringing with them 10 000 #Covid19 tests. They are already working closely with the British on the ground, testing drivers on their way to France! #StrongerTogether #FrancoBritishFriendship”

It is not clear why the 10,000 French tests were needed in Kent – the UK government said on Wednesday evening it had four mobile testing sites in operation with a further five being set up – but the help was welcomed by Shapps.

The ministers, who has been negotiating all week with his French counterpart to unblock the ports, tweeted: “As well as ensuring ferries will now sail on Christmas and Boxing Day, we’ve also got great cooperation by French firemen working with NHS test and trace and our brilliant military in a big effort to clear the backlog created by the French border closure.”

The Department for Transport and the French embassy in the UK were contacted for comment.

News is under threat …
… just when we need it the most. Millions of readers around the world are flocking to the Guardian in search of honest, authoritative, fact-based reporting that can help them understand the biggest challenge we have faced in our lifetime. But at this crucial moment, news organisations are facing a cruel financial double blow: with fewer people able to leave their homes, and fewer news vendors in operation, we’re seeing a reduction in newspaper sales across the UK. Advertising revenue continues to fall steeply meanwhile as businesses feel the pinch. We need you to help fill the gap.

We believe every one of us deserves equal access to vital public service journalism. So, unlike many others, we made a different choice: to keep Guardian journalism open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. This would not be possible without financial contributions from those who can afford to pay, who now support our work from 180 countries around the world.

Reader financial support has meant we can keep investigating, disentangling and interrogating. It has protected our independence, which has never been so critical. We are so grateful.

We need your support so we can keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. And that is here for the long term. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable

Latest news
Related news
- Advertisement -spot_img