“The epidemic is gaining ground even if we are starting from a low level,” he said at the traditional press conference following the weekly meeting of ministers.
“The alert threshold has been crossed in about 40 departements,” he added, especially in the Pays de la Loire, where the incidence rate has increased by a third in a week.
According to Covidtracker, France is currently recording an average of 5,256 new cases of Covid-19 every day for the past week, while 224 people have been admitted to hospital every day for the past seven days.
Aujourd’hui est le premier jour où on a plus d’une semaine complète de suivi épidémique avec les tests Covid payants. La hausse du nombre de cas se poursuit : +9,1% en une semaine. On en détecte un peu plus de 5 000 chaque jour. pic.twitter.com/XTG0m1iH7O
— GRZ (@GuillaumeRozier) October 25, 2021
The number of people hospitalised with the virus is no longer falling, Attal said, and reminded those eligible for a third dose to book their appointments.
“I do not see how we could adapt or lift the health pass on November 15th,” he warned, referring to the original expiry date for health pass restrictions. “But as soon as we have the opportunity, we will adapt and lift the constraints.”
And he said that the idea of amending health pass rules so that those who are eligible for a booster dose can only use it if they have had a third vaccination was ‘gaining ground’ in political circles – but that officials were waiting on the views of health authorities before moving forward with any plan.
“The vaccine booster is essential and urgent,” he said, insisting that a booster is an “absolute necessity for the oldest”.
To date, 2.6 million French people have already received a booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine. “It is a lot, but still too little,” Attal said, adding that, “appointments are accelerating”.
“Our vaccination coverage should allow us to avoid being overwhelmed by a fifth wave,” he said, “provided that the protection conferred by the vaccine remains.
“It is therefore necessary that the people most exposed to the serious forms have their vaccination booster.”
Attal denied claims that President Emmanuel Macron had abandoned recommended barrier gestures, even though he had been seen shaking hands at a number of recent events.
“When the President or the Prime Minister travel, we do our utmost to comply with health protocols,” he said. “When you are on the move, there can be something quite natural about shaking hands. But we are very careful and we use hydroalcoholic gel.”