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‘Needed to let loose’: Partying youths defy Paris police for third night running

Paris police said Sunday that three people were detained after officers used tear gas to disperse hundreds of youths gathered for a street party in defiance of Covid social distancing limits and an 11:00 pm curfew.

'Needed to let loose': Partying youths defy Paris police for third night running
Police cars are seen next to the Invalides metro station in Paris early on June 12, 2021. Credit: GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

The so-called Project X gathering on Saturday, a reference to an American film from 2012, on the vast lawns in front of the Invalides war museum was the third party at the site since Thursday.

Videos on social media showed largely maskless youths surrounding a car and then climbing and jumping on its roof, while others bombarded police vans with bottles.

Other mass parties were broken up after midnight in the Tuileries gardens near the Louvre and on the banks of the Seine river, police said, as people enjoying warm evenings outside found it difficult to respect the coronavirus curfew.

Many bars across the city remained open after 11:00 pm over the weekend, the first since the curfew was pushed back from 9:00 pm last Wednesday, according to AFP reporters.

“We had our ‘bac’ [high school exit exam] this year and we really needed to let loose,” said Cedric, 17, who came with friends from the nearby 15th district of the capital.

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Officials have urged people to continue respecting social distancing limits as the country emerges from its third Covid lockdown.

Since Wednesday, bars and restaurants are allowed to serve patrons indoors for the first time since October, with a maximum of six people per table, and the government plans to drop the nationwide curfew entirely on June 30.

“I understand and obviously I share the desire of these youths and other people to get together again and have a good time,” said Marlene Schiappa, the minister in charge of citizenship.

“But the virus is still here, the pandemic still exists, and we need to respect the health rules,” which she told Europe 1 radio.

Health authorities reported 3,972 new cases over the previous 24 hours on Saturday, while the number of patients in intensive care fell to 2,110, far below the peak of nearly 6,000 during the third wave of cases that began in March.

Thirty-four deaths were reported, bringing the French total to 110,407.

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HEALTH

Experts warn of high levels of flu in France this winter

Experts have warned of a particularly bad flu epidemic this winter in France due to a combination of lowered immune systems and 'vaccine apathy' - urging high-risk groups to get their shot as soon as the flu vaccination campaign begins in October.

Experts warn of high levels of flu in France this winter

France’s annual flu vaccine campaign will officially get under way on October 18th this year – and medical experts have warned that this year’s season may be a bad one amid fears of “vaccine apathy”.

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

Immunologist Alain Fischer, who chaired France’s Conseil d’orientation de la stratégie vaccinale throughout the Covid-19 pandemic said that the high number of flu cases in Australia and the southern hemisphere in its winter were “a warning sign” that this winter’s flu, coupled with rising cases of Covid-19, could lead to a sharp rise in hospitalisations again in the winter.

“For two years, influenza has been kept at bay, thanks to the barrier measures we have put in place against Covid,” he told Le Parisien. 

“This year, it will be difficult to maintain the same level of protection: masks, distancing, intensive hand washing … Faced with this relaxation, there is a serious risk of flu epidemic.”

Between two million and six million people contract flu every winter in France. The infection is responsible for between 4,000 and 6,000 deaths every year, usually among people aged 65 and over. But in ‘bad’ flu years, that mortality figure can rise rapidly.

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

The country, meanwhile, is at the start of what is being described as an “eighth wave” of Covid, and the Haute Autorité de santé recommends the eligible, vulnerable people ensure they are vaccinated against both viruses as early as possible. “A Covid-flu cohabitation is not a good thing,”  Fischer said. “It is synonymous with a very high number of hospitalisations. 

“Hence the objective of two strong vaccination campaigns – Covid and flu – especially for the most vulnerable.”

“The double injection is very good, and practical for patients. But I think that we should not wait, especially vulnerable people. It is a mistake to think that you will get your Covid booster when the flu vaccine is here – the Covid jab should not be delayed.”

Currently less than 40 percent of people eligible for a fourth Covid vaccine have received their latest dose.

Dual-strain Covid-19 vaccines designed to combat both delta and omicron variants will be available in France from October 3rd.

READ ALSO France approves new vaccines for Covid Omicron sub-variants

“It is quite possible to get your Covid injection in early October and flu vaccine in late October – you will need both anyway,” Fischer said.

The Haute Autorité de Santé recommends influenza vaccination for the following groups:

  • people aged 65 and over; 
  • people with chronic diseases; 
  • pregnant women;
  • people suffering from obesity (BMI equal to or greater than 40 kg/m 2 );
  • Infants under 6 months at risk of serious influenza;
  • Families and others close to immunocompromised people; 
  • home help workers caring for vulnerable individuals.

For anyone in these groups, the flu vaccine is 100 percent covered by health insurance and delivered free of charge to the pharmacy, on presentation of a voucher.

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