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

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

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.

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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.

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“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.” 

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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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