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CURFEW

France extends coronavirus curfew to 8 new departments

France is to extend its Covid-19 curfew to a further eight departments, Prime Minister Jean Castex said Saturday, citing a "tough and necessary" response as some opposed the restrictions in several cities.

France extends coronavirus curfew to 8 new departments
The curfew is likely to be extended to the Haut-Rhin department, centred on the city of Colmar, above. Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP
France has been ramping up its anti-virus restrictions in the face of rising cases and imposed a post-New Year curfew from 6pm on 15 of its 101 departments, the remainder subject to an 8 pm confinement.
   
Those 15 are deemed to be where the virus is spreading the most in a country which has seen some 67,000 deaths to date from some 2.7 million cases and with a reproduction rate escalating.
   
The new departments likely to be be subject to an earlier curfew are primarily in the east of the country, including Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin and Cote d'Or, as well as the central one of Cher.
 
   
Castex highlighted the southern port of Marseille, France's second largest city, where local politicians of all stripes have voiced opposition to extending the partial lockdown, questioning its effectiveness. 
   
“In reality we are applying the same criteria to Marseille as we apply elsewhere,” said Castex, confirming the earlier lockdown would be extended to eight departments including the Bouches-du-Rhone, which includes Marseille.
   
“Everybody is conscious of the epidemic not weakening or that on the contrary it is growing stronger in some areas,” Castex said.
   
Castex also defended the government's vaccine rollout strategy, criticised in some quarters for its slow start.
   
“The objective is to go quickly, (but) do it in absolutely irreproachable security conditions.”
   
Opinion polls show around half the French population are sceptical about having the jab — their opposition notably higher than in neighbouring countries.
   
Castex underlined what he termed the “credibility” of the vaccine strategy, adding “it must succeed as that is what will allow us to find out way out of this serious and worsening health crisis.”
   
Health Minister Olivier Veran stressed that France would be stepping up the rate of vaccinations from the coming week.

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HEALTH

Reader Question: Can I get a third Covid booster shot in France?

As France launches its autumn vaccine campaign, almost half of those eligible for the second booster jab in France have already received it. This has left some wondering whether they could qualify for a third booster, using the new dual-strain vaccines.

Reader Question: Can I get a third Covid booster shot in France?

Question: I’m in my 70s and I had my second booster back in the summer but now I see that the new dual-strain vaccines are available – should I be getting an extra booster with the new type of vaccine?

French health authorities launched the autumn booster campaign on October 3rd includes newly authorised dual-strain vaccines – such as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine adapted to BA.1, the Moderna vaccine adapted to BA.1, and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine adapted to BA.4/5 – which are designed to combat the Omicron variant.

It will be followed by the seasonal flu vaccination campaign in mid October.

READ MORE: When, where and how to get flu shots and Covid boosters this autumn in France

In France, about 6.3 million people have received a second booster dose, “or 41 percent of the eligible population,” said the Directorate General of Health (DGS) to Ouest France.

Currently only those in high risk groups are eligible for a second booster shot, including pregnant women, the elderly those with medical conditions or carers – find the full list here.

As almost half of the eligible population have already received a fourth vaccine, many are wondering whether they will be eligible for a fifth (or third booster) in order to access the new dual-strain vaccine.  

According to Virginie, a representative from HAS – France’s health authority – the organisation “no longer thinks in terms of doses for high-risk people and immunocompromised patients.”

Specifically, the HAS recommends that a new injection be given – and if possible one of the dual-strain vaccines – “regardless of the number of injections received up to now”.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Who qualifies for a second Covid vaccine booster in France?

However, French health authorities specified that the additional booster should “respect the minimum recommended time between two doses.”

“This depends based on your profile – for people aged 80 and over, residents of nursing homes or long-term care units (USLD) and those who are immunocompromised, the wait-time is three months between jabs. For the others, the delay is set at six months.”

For those who have already been infected by Covid-19, the HAS recommends that if you are eligible for a second (or third booster) that the additional dose “is still recommended, with a minimum delay of three months after infection.”

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