Attal struck a cautiously optimistic tone at a press conference following the weekly cabinet meeting, as figures showed that cases were falling markedly in time for the country’s schools to reopen. But ICU figures in metropolitan France, and the more difficult situation in overseas territories where vaccination rates are much lower, tempered the message.
Attal said: “This rentrée takes place in a completely different context to last year: the vaccination of three quarters [of the population] has proved its worth and offers precious security.”
He was speaking hours after it was revealed that 10 million people in France have yet to be vaccinated. In total 85.9 percent of the adult population have had one dose of vaccine – and 79.1 percent are fully vaccinated.
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— Nicolas Berrod (@nicolasberrod) August 31, 2021
Of the total population who are eligible for vaccine – 12 years old and upwards – 83.9 percent have had at least one dose while 76.2 percent are fully vaccinated and looking at France’s total population (including children under 12) 72.1 percent have had at least one dose and 65.5 percent are fully vaccinated.
“The number of infections has been falling for two weeks and the incidence rate is declining everywhere,” Attal said, adding that authorities can show “cautious optimism”.
But he urged people to remain on their guard. “The improvement is there but we must maintain our efforts, especially as the return to school and work and falling temperatures in autumn could prompt a resumption of the epidemic.
“The situation is still precarious,” he said. “Nearly one in two intensive care beds is occupied by Covid patients
“We are not lowering our guard,” Attal said, highlighting the government’s “four-level protocol for schools [that] will allow the rules to be adapted at local level … [while] each establishment has prepared an educational continuity plan”.