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COVID-19 VACCINES

France ‘can manage fifth Covid wave without extra restrictions’

France is dealing with a fifth wave of Covid-19, government spokesman Gabriel Attal has admitted as new daily cases rise, hitting an average of 10,000 new cases per day for the first time since September.

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal.
French government spokesman Gabriel Attal. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP

Covidtracker statistics show that the current seven-day rolling daily average of cases is 10,031, up 38 percent week on week. Daily figures for Tuesday, November 16th, alone, jumped above 20,000, although daily rates can fluctuate due to reporting anomalies.

“We knew that this wave could happen, the situation in some countries sounded a warning,” Attal said after the weekly ministers’ meeting.

He added: “The incidence rate is particularly high in Corsica, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Pays-de-la-Loire.”

The incidence rate has exceeded 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 21 départements, according to Santé Publique France – and averages 105 nationally, while the R rate is currently 1.26. 

Any R rate figure greater than one indicates that the virus is spreading again, rather than being in retreat.

“The epidemic is accelerating everywhere and the virus is gaining ground,” Attal said. But, he added: “We’re crossing each wave better than previous ones.”

He went on: “We are learning each time how to manage this epidemic, (…) each time we have new tools which allow us to contain this epidemic and, in particular, its impact on hospitals.”

In common with other European countries, high vaccination rates mean that the proportion of Covid patients ending up in hospital or dying is much lower than in previous waves.

On November 9th, 6,912 patients with Covid-19 were hospitalised in France, a three percent week-on-week increase from the 6,741 hospitalisations recorded on November 3rd, Santé Publique France revealed in its last weekly statement on the pandemic. Intensive care cases were up four percent week-on-week, from 1,104 on November 2nd to 1,153 on November 9th. 

Latest Covidtracker figures indicate 1,277 people were in critical care on November 16th, with new admissions running at 85 per day. The death toll from the virus currently averages 36 per day.

Attal pointed out that, at this time last year, France was in a period of lockdown.

“The number of new cases [in 2020] was in the tens of thousands. And we were reaching a record number of patients hospitalised with Covid.

“We are light years away from this situation today. We owe it to the vaccine, to the health pass and, of course, to everyone’s efforts. We therefore have all the cards in the face of this fifth wave,” he added.

“The tools we have – the health pass, vaccination, booster doses – allow us to be confident. But we have to continue our efforts – they can get us through the winter without additional measures.”

On November 17th, 2020, France recorded an average of more than 16,600 confirmed cases every day – against a little more than 10,000 today, according to data from CovidTracker.

But healthcare systems in France are under less pressure. Some 7,535 people are currently hospitalised with Covid-19, compared to more than 33,000 at this time last year.

Attal said that there had been a rise in the number of people getting vaccinated. “Appointments for a first injection (of vaccine) have increased 20 percent,” he said. “This is a very good sign.”

In addition, a record 200,000 booster doses were administered yesterday across the country, Attal said. 

In total, 51,575,242 people had received at least one dose of vaccine as of November 15th, according to the Health Ministry, with 50,491,909 people having had two doses.

A further 4,619,325 eligible people have had their third booster dose.

From December 1st, people aged 50-64 who have been doubly vaccinated against Covid-19 for at least six months can get a booster dose. Booking slots for December have just opened on the medical appointment platforms.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

More than 100,000 protest Macron’s plan to ‘piss off the unvaccinated’

More than 100,000 people across France protested on Saturday over what they say are government plans to further restrict the rights of the unvaccinated.

More than 100,000 protest Macron's plan to 'piss off the unvaccinated'
Demonstrators hold a banner reading " The youth piss off the vaccine front " during a protest against the health pass on Saturday. Photo: Christophe Archambault/AFP

The protest came only days after French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to “piss off” those refusing the jab.

The turnout was four times higher than the numbers who answered the December 18 call to protest, when 25,500 people marched across the country, according to government estimates.

The protests oppose a planned law that will require individuals to prove they are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus before they can eat out, travel on inter-city trains or attend cultural events.

On Thursday, France’s lower house of parliament passed the controversial bill in a first reading. The government has said it expects the new requirements to be implemented by January 15, although lawmakers in the Senate could now delay the process.

About 18,000 protesters gathered in Paris. Photo: Christophe Archambault/AFP

Interior ministry officials said 105,200 people participated in Saturday’s protests across France, 18,000 of them in the capital Paris, where police reported 10 arrests and three officers slightly injured. Elsewhere there were 24 arrests and seven police officers lightly injured according to the ministry.

Among the larger demonstrations, around 6,000 demonstrators turned out in Toulon, while in Montpellier police used teargas during clashes with protesters.

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France recorded 303,669 new coronavirus cases on Saturday amid mounting pressure on hospitals.

The Paris protesters, many of them unmasked, braved the cold and rain brandishing placards emblazoned with the word “truth” and “No to vaccine passes”.

Others took aim at Macron, using the same coarse language he employed in his attack on people holding out against vaccination earlier in the week.

Macron said Friday that he fully stands by controversial remarks he made on Tuesday, when he vowed to “piss off” people not vaccinated against Covid-19 until they accept shots.

The earthy language and uncompromising approach provoked uproar in French media and from opponents.

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