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‘We won’t forget a single name’: France passes landmark of 100,000 Covid deaths

French President Emmanuel Macron said the country would focus "all of its on getting out of this ordeal" after France passed the grim milestone of 100,000 Covid-19 deaths on Thursday.

'We won't forget a single name': France passes landmark of 100,000 Covid deaths
Photo: SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

A day earlier, the death toll stood at 99,805.

France is the third country in Europe to reach the grim milestone of 100,000 coronavirus deaths, after the United Kingdom and Italy.

“We will not forget a single face, a single name,” President Emmanuel Macron tweeted, sending his condolences to the victim’s families and friends.

“Since the start of the pandemic, 100,000 French women and men have succumbed to the virus. Our thoughts are for their families, their loved ones, for the children who have lost a parent or a grandparent, the bereaved siblings, the broken friendships.

“And if all our energy is now focused on getting out of this ordeal, we will not forget any face or name,” the president said.

Worldwide, the US has the highest death toll, with over half a million, followed by Brazil.

Nearly 30,000 people were killed in France in the first wave of the pandemic between mid-March and mid-May last year but the bulk of the deaths have been recorded since October, when the country was hit by a second surge in infections that remained stuck at a high level through the end of 2020.

With over 5,900 patients currently in intensive care, the highest level since spring 2020, the country is currently in the throes of a severe third wave.

On Tuesday, the government, which has blamed the spread of the more contagious British Covid-19 variant for the spiralling case-load, suspended all flights to and from Brazil to curb the spread of a new variant found in that country.

Opposition parties accuse Macron of letting the crisis spiral out of control by rebuffing doctors’ calls for a third nationwide lockdown in late January.

The centrist leader, who is expected to seek re-election next year, brought in a ‘partial lockdown’ from April 3rd which included a three-week school closure and closure of non-essential shops.

Travel between regions is also banned, a nighttime curfew is in place from 7pm, and cafes and restaurants, which have been closed since the start of a second national lockdown on October 30, remain shuttered.

READ ALSO Has France passed the peak of the third wave?

Vaccination woes

France has also drawn criticism for the initially slow pace of its vaccination campaign.

While the pace of inoculations has shot up in recent weeks, France is still lagging behind the US and Britain in the vaccination stakes.

So far it has administered 15.75 million injections compared with 40.96 million in Britain.

Macron’s government, which has been focusing on jabbing the elderly first, had been expecting to begin the rollout this week of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

That plan appeared to be in trouble after Johnson & Johnson said on Tuesday it would delay rollout of the vaccine in Europe after it was suspended in the US over rare incidents of blood clots which have also affected the AstraZeneca jab.

France says it is sticking to its plan to make the Johnson & Johnson vaccine available to over-55s and is also standing by the AstraZeneca jab for the same age category.

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COVID-19

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The French parliament has passed the controversial health bill which updates France's emergency provisions for Covid - and allows the return of negative Covid tests for all travellers at the border, if the health situation requires.

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The Loi sanitaire was eventually approved by the Assemblée nationale on Monday after several variations and amendments added on its passage through the Assemblée and the Senate. It was voted on and passed Tuesday, May 26th. 

The bill replaces the State of Health Emergency that has been in place since March 2020 and puts in place provision for government actions should the health situation deteriorate or a dangerous new variant of Covid emerge.

The original text had a provision for the return of the health pass at the border, but this has now been scrapped and instead the government has the right to make a negative Covid test a condition of entry for all travellers.

At present negative tests are required only for unvaccinated travellers, and the new test requirement would only be put into force if a dangerous new variant emerges.

The government will be able to implement the testing rule by decree for two months, but a further parliamentary debate would be required to extend it beyond that.

From August 1st the State of Health Emergency will be formally repealed, which means that the government no longer has the power to introduce major limits on personal freedom such as lockdowns or curfews without first having a debate in parliament.

The bill also allows for an extension of data collection required for the SI-DEP epidemic monitoring tools such as the contact tracing app Tous Anti Covid until June 30th, 2023 and Contact Covid until January 31st, 2023. 

The most controversial measure in the bill was the reinstatement of healthcare workers who were suspended for being unvaccinated – this actually only involves a couple of hundred people but medical unions and the medical regulator Haut Autorité de Santé (HAS) have both been against it.

However the bill allows for the eventual lifting of the requirement for Covid vaccination for healthcare workers, when the HAS judges it is no longer necessary and once the requirement is lifted, the suspended healthcare workers will be reinstated “immediately”.

The bill was approved on Monday evening with 184 votes to 149, the result of a joint committee that was able to harmonise the versions of the Assembly and the Senate.

The final vote passed the Senate on Tuesday.

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