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.
— GRZ (@GuillaumeRozier) December 21, 2021
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.