French PM announces new meeting on France’s Christmas Covid rules

Top French government ministers will hold extra talks on the health crisis early next week to "see if there is a need to take additional measures" to combat the fifth wave of Covid, Prime Minister Jean Castex has said - raising fears of a second downbeat, socially distant Christmas.

An older woman in France receives a Covid-19 injection in her left arm from a doctor wearing a facemask
Photo: Thomas Coex / AFP

The Prime Minister said that the Delta variant, which makes up the majority of cases of Covid-19 in France, is driving the recent surge in cases, while multiple cases of the Omicron variant, described as a ‘variant of concern by the World Health Organisation, have now been identified in France.

READ ALSO ‘We need to be careful’: Will France have a normal Christmas this year?

The meeting of the government’s “health council”, on Monday, December 6th, will “see if there is a need to take additional measures”, Castex said, citing a “worrying” 60 percent increase in cases in a week.

Forecasts from the Pasteur Institute predict there will be 3,000 patients in intensive care with Covid-19 by mid-December, compared to 2,000 at the beginning of the month.

READ ALSO Where are the worst hit Covid regions in France?

“We remain extremely vigilant,” Health Minister Olivier Véran said. “We will not let the pressure rise too high” in hospitals, stressed the minister, responding to a question about a possible return of limits on people able to enter establishments such as cafés and restaurants.

Castex again urged French people to book a vaccination appointment, stressing that every eligible adult will be able to get a booster shot before health passes rules change on January 15th, 2022. 

“There are all the doses you need,” insisted the head of government, adding that “many appointment slots will open in the coming days.” 

READ ALSO Do I need a vaccine booster if I’ve already had Covid?

Some 4.5 million appointments have been made for booster doses since eligibility opened up to all adults over the age of 18 on December 1st. Meanwhile, the number of people coming forward for first injections is also rising – some 6 million eligible people, including 1.2 million aged over 65, have not yet come forward for a vaccine dose.

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France expands list of groups eligible for second Covid vaccine booster shot

The French government has expanded the list of people eligible to get a second booster shot to include under 60s with medical conditions and pregnant women.

France expands list of groups eligible for second Covid vaccine booster shot

The health ministry announced on Wednesday that it had accepted the recommendation of the Haute Autorité de Santé to expand the vaccination programme for the second booster shot.

All over 60s and those with serious medical conditions have been eligible since the spring, but now that list has expanded to include anyone aged 18-59 with a medical condition, including those with diabetes, hypertension, respiratory illnesses or a BMI of 30 or above.

Also eligible are pregnant women and people who live with or are in regular close contact with anyone in a high-risk group.

You can find the full list, and how to access the booster shot, HERE.

As the seventh wave of Covid in France appears to have peaked, with case numbers showing a steady fall, vaccination rates have also slowed.

An average of 65,000 second doses are now being administered every day, compared to 90,000 the week before – this covers all doses administered, including second boosters, first boosters and people getting vaccinated for the first time.

The HAS has also recommended running a combined Covid second booster campaign in September and October, when the seasonal flu vaccination campaign begins.