Covid-19 circulating at a ‘worrying’ level, says French health minister, but stops short of recommending third national lockdown

Covid-19 circulating at a ‘worrying’ level, says French health minister, but stops short of recommending third national lockdown

France’s health minister has warned of a possibility of a third wave of Covid-19, saying infection rates are “worryingly” high in the country, and noting the increasing prevalence of the “English variant.”

Speaking on Tuesday to France Inter radio, Health Minister Olivier Veran described the circulation of Covid-19 in the country as “both high and relatively stable.” 

“We already took a tough decision last week to impose a 6pm curfew on the country as a whole,” Veran said. “I cannot say we will impose a confinement, but the circulation of the virus remains worrying.” 

The minister contended that the more transmittable “English” variant was of considerable concern, adding that a higher proportion of the more contagious strain might cause a third wave of the virus in France.

Veran was subsequently questioned about the progress of France’s inoculation program. He reiterated the government’s target of vaccinating 2.4 million people before the end of February, and denied that vaccine supplies were being held back. 

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After case numbers skyrocketed in November, the government introduced a tough lockdown, which has been incrementally relaxed over the past month. Nonetheless, the health authorities are frequently recording more than 15,000 new infections every day. 

The government has repeatedly come under fire for its slow progress in vaccinating people against Covid-19. Veran’s 2.4 million target compares poorly with that set by neighboring countries. The UK, for instance, intends to vaccinate 15 million people by mid-February.

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