Omicron cases rise in France as number of ICU patients tops 3,000 once again

Omicron Covid cases continue to rise in France as the number of Covid patients in French intensive care units rises above 3,000 for the first time since May. The government says it will not rule out further restrictions.

A French firefighter prepares a Covid vaccine.
A French firefighter prepares a Covid vaccine. Omicron cases are rising fast. (Photo by Sylvain THOMAS / AFP)

The French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal gave a sobering assessment of the health situation in the country during an interview with France 2 on Tuesday morning.

“The Omicron variant is reshuffling the cards. It is much more contagious than anything we have seen. Every two to three days, the number of cases doubles,” he said. “We must really pay attention.” 

When asked whether this would translate into further restrictions, he said: “If we see a very strong uptick in the epidemic linked to the Omicron variant, we obviously could go further.”

Guillaume Rozier, the data scientist behind Covid Tracker, has said that while Delta cases appear to be levelling off, the Omicron variant has picked up the slack now accounting for an estimated 8.8 percent of positive cases.

He suggested that rising case numbers were being driven by people aged 20-39. The average number of daily infections is now over 51,000 – a rise of 6 percent from last week. Intensive care units are at 60 percent capacity, with more than 3,000 patients currently confined to beds – for the first time since May. The government has suggested that as many as 4,000 patients could be lying in ICU in the coming weeks. 

Encouragingly, a study released by France’s Pasteur Institute on Monday confirmed what many suspected: that booster doses are extremely effective at “neutralising” Omicron infections.

On Tuesday morning France’s Health Minister, Olivier Veran, said that the country would pass the 20 million booster dose mark at some point during the day. 

Many people in France are also getting vaccinated for the very first time – likely in response to the government’s promise to implement a vaccine pass to replace the current health pass. Since the start of December, more than 20,000 people have received their first vaccine dose every day. On Monday, 26,000 people made appointments for firs vaccinations via the medical booking website, Doctolib

“Thank you to everyone who is mobilised like never before, allowing us to better protect ourselves agains Delta and Omicron variants,” Véran wrote on Twitter. 

The government has urged people to avoid large gatherings over Christmas and has cracked down on New Year’s Eve celebrations

Member comments

  1. Oke now I want to know how many of those 3000 are fully vaccinated? And their ages! The autumn/winter has always been a time when more people let go of the grass than other times of the year.

    1. That figure is never released. Not in Britain and not in France. Can only suppose it wouldn’t fit the narrative.

      1. Actually it is – figure is around 70% in the UK. So if that’s mirrored in France around 2,100 people

  2. I wish they’d publish the percentage of those with the virus split into vax and non-vax. it would solve many an argument hereabouts, in the land of the complotistes. In the absence of factual information, people make up their own “facts”.

  3. I would like to understand more and have a clearer picture, to know for instance;

    Percentage of the population of unvaccinated people who had to go to hospital (with age and underlying conditions analysis)
    Percentage of the population of early double vaccinated people who had to go to hospital (plus age and underlying conditions analysis)
    Percentage of recently doubly vaccinated population, and of triply vaccinated population (with age and underlying conditions analysis)
    Percentage of unvaccinated population receiving timely adapted treatment and care who have to go to hospital, compared to those given no care and the advice ‘stay at home and take paracetamol’ (with age and underlying conditions)
    Increases in hospital cases in previous years at this time of the year compared to this year

    Today I read a BBC article saying in India cases are rising and there is a move to vaccinate, without mentioning that India has 341deaths per million…compared to the UK 2,153 and France 1,859 (source Worldometers), and no information on what is behind India’s comparatively low death rates (could it be average age of population, way of collecting stats, Ivermectin…?). Stats can be misleading or incomplete when used to build an argument…I truly hope Omicron will not be serious.

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How bad will France’s Covid-19 summer wave be and could there be new restrictions?

Daily Covid-19 cases in France topped 200,000 on Tuesday as infections rise sharply. Here is what we can expect for the seventh wave of the pandemic in the country.

How bad will France's Covid-19 summer wave be and could there be new restrictions?

France has seen a huge increase in the number of Covid-19 infections in recent days.

The country was reporting an average of 100,000 cases per day as of July 2nd but by Tuesday July 5th the daily case count had topped 200,000.

Hospital admissions and admissions into intensive care are also on the rise, but the number of Covid-related deaths has not risen. 

Here is what you can expect for the coming weeks:

Cases to continue rising – For the moment the number of cases is expected to continue growing sharply, with variants BA.4 and BA.5 currently representing over 75 percent of cases in France.

However, even though infections continue to rise sharply (around 60 percent up on last week), the rate of growth appears to be slowing in recent days, accoridng to French data scientist and founder of the Covid Tracker website Guillaume Rozier.

“This [current] stability in cases is an encouraging sign, because the number of cases had been increasing for the past month. There is usually about a three week lag between the peak in cases and the peak in deaths deaths. We still have to be cautious and wait for another week and a half,” said Rozier in one of his regular Twitter threads.

In contrast to the peak of infections during the fifth wave last winter, which saw over 500,000 cases reported a day, this wave is currently seeing an average of 100,000 cases per day, though the peak has not yet been reached. 

If you test positive while in France, here is a guide of what to do.

READ MORE: French public urged to wear face masks again on public transport

Likely peak in late July – The seventh wave may reach its peak by the end of July in France, estimated Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, the president of the Scientific Council, on June 30th. The wave is likely to continue being fuelled by Omicron sub-variants, BA.4 and notably BA.5.

Regarding the number of hospitalisations, Marc Lavielle, a professor and researcher with the French National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology explained that we are “in a fairly steady pattern of exponential growth,” meaning that the “number of hospital admissions doubles every two weeks or so.”

This represents a much slower pace than at the beginning of the epidemic, when the number doubled in only three days. However, Lavielle warned that without restrictive measures the increase could accelerate. Deaths are currently at about 40 per day, but it is important to note that the deaths usually lag infections by three weeks.

In comparison to the end of June in 2021, only 22,000 cases were detected per day, whereas this summer saw around 70,000 per day at the end of June. Nevertheless, this wave has so far seen a lower number of admissions into critical care than last summer’s wave that was fuelled by the more dangerous Delta variant.

The severity of this variant and wave – So far, symptoms associated with this current wave are “standard for Omicron,” while the duration of symptoms seems to last a bit longer. Currently there is no data showing variants BA.4 and BA.5 are more dangerous than other variants in Omicron family, though evidence shows they are spreading faster. Mortality is also not higher than other variants based on current data.

“The main symptoms associated with BA.5 are fairly standard for Omicron: fatigue, cough, fever and headache. However, the likelihood of experiencing loss of taste or smell is higher than with BA.2,” explained Yannick Simonin, virologist and researcher at the University of Montpellier. He added that infected people also seem to be experiencing nausea, vomiting and diarrhea at higher rates.

The duration of symptoms for BA.5 appears to be closer to seven days, rather than four days, which was common for previous Omicron sub-variants. 

Ultimately, there is “currently no field data showing this sub-variant is more lethal than others in the Omicron family.” 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Who qualifies for a second Covid vaccine booster in France?

How concerned should we be?

Based on observations from countries who have already experienced a BA.5 wave, like Portugal and South Africa, so far this wave has not caused a serious over-saturation of hospitals. H

However, there has still been significant increases in hospitalisations due to large number of cases. Therefore, experts recommend staying vigilant by wearing masks in enclosed spaces and crowded areas, as well as getting a second booster if eligible. So far, only 31 percent of over 80s have received their second booster shot. 

No return of health pass in metropolitan France.?

The president of the National Assembly announced over the weekend that France’s Covid-19 health pass, rolled out in the summer of 2021 to allow vaccinated individuals entry to bars and restaurants or cinemas, will not be renewed on August 1st.

Lawmakers are set to go over the bill concerning the country’s health security on Monday, July 11th, which is likely to extend some “essential provisions to face the continuation of the Covid-19 epidemic,” according to government spokesperson Olivier Véran.

Thus, there is a possibility that the health pass will be reinstated for border crossings, which would affect France’s overseas territories and Corsica. However, officials have clarified that the health pass will not be renewed in metropolitan France, despite the seventh wave.