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France v Scotland Six Nations match cancelled due to COVID outbreak among French rugby team

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By Euronews with AP
French players celebrate at the end of the Six Nations rugby union match between Ireland and France Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021.
French players celebrate at the end of the Six Nations rugby union match between Ireland and France Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021.   -   Copyright  Brian Lawless, Pool via AP

France's Six Nations match against Scotland in Paris on Sunday has been postponed due to several of the French rugby team testing positive for COVID-19.

All the players in France's national rugby squad are in isolation and training was suspended after a further member of the group tested positive for the virus on Thursday, the French Rugby Federation (FFR) said in a statement.

The Six Nations Supervisory Committee said its members had "unanimously recommended a postponement of the France-Scotland match," according to a statement.

"We will be working on the rescheduling of this fixture and will communicate the date in due course.”

Including the new, unnamed, individual, as many as 11 players have now tested positive for the virus as well as three staff members, including coach Fabien Galthié.

“The entire group is in isolation according to health protocol,” the FFR said, adding it was in “close contact with the Six Nations committee.”

Sunday's match had been given the green light to go ahead on Wednesday by competition organisers after there were no positive cases in the squad for two consecutive days.

It is still possible for the match to be moved back one week to the second fallow week of the tournament but this is complicated by the fact Scotland has 10 of their players who play in either the English Premiership or France’s Top 14.

There is also the risk that a delay of one week does not give France time to contain the outbreak among the team.

Captain Charles Ollivon and star scrum-half Antoine Dupont were among the 10 to previously test positive.

France currently leads the Six Nations after away wins over Italy and Ireland.

Around 10 of France’s 102 territorial areas known as departments are in a "very worrying situation" in terms of COVID-19 infections, government spokesman Gabriel Attal told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The region around the northern French port of Dunkirk will see a weekend lockdown enforced starting on Saturday to halt surging infections, Health Minister Olivier Véran has said.

He labelled the situation surrounding Dunkirk "alarming" and said the government would also increase vaccine supplies to the area.

Nice in the south has also been defined as a hotspot and will be put under weekend lockdown starting this weekend.

The rest of the country is currently under a 6 pm-6 am curfew, during which time all but essential journeys outside the household are banned.

Stubbornly high infection rates are hindering the easing coronavirus restrictions in France.

Attal said the national COVID-19 spread is "going up a bit" and "unfortunately the trend doesn't point to an easing of restrictions".

Prime Minister Jean Castex will hold a press conference on Thursday to update citizens on the situation concerning the virus.