Britain says thousands of trucks cross Channel after virus testing stepped up
DOVER, England (Reuters) - More than 4,500 trucks, amid a huge backlog of trucks stranded for days in the UK port of Dover, crossed the Channel on Friday after additional troops were deployed to step up coronavirus testing, said a minister.
Ferry services between Dover and the French port of Calais resumed on Thursday, ending a blockade France had imposed for several days after discovering a new variant of coronavirus in England.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Twitter on Friday that more than 10,000 coronavirus tests have been carried out on truck drivers and only 24 of them tested positive.
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"Over 4,500 trucks (heavy-duty vehicles) are back across the canal," Shapps said.
Britain deployed additional troops to clear the queues of trucks waiting for COVID-19 tests before being allowed to board cross-channel ferries. British media said 800 additional soldiers had been sent to support 300 originally deployed soldiers.
Soldiers checked vehicles and driver documents at the port entrance. In one case, French officials who were in Dover to clean up the residue were found to give a driver a nasal swab.
The French and British governments agreed to end the blockade on Tuesday, but British authorities had announced it would take days to clear the long lines of trucks.
(Reporting by Henry Nicholls and Maria Kiselyova; editing by Gareth Jones)
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