Covid case numbers are picking up in France, just as the country relaxes its pandemic restrictions.
The latest official data dates to Thursday, March 10th, when the seven-day case average reached 60,323 – a 16.5 percent rise compared to the week before. The incidence rate is rising among all age groups.
“Covid is not falling, it is even increasing,” said Health Minister Olivier Véran last week, warning of a “rebound” of the pandemic.
A sub-variant of Omicron, known as BA2, is thought to be behind the increase in cases.
In an interview with Le Parisien, Prime Minister Jean Castex said that this strain was “more transmissible than the initial Omicron, but does not seem more dangerous.”
The pick-up in case numbers comes as France relaxes a number of pandemic restrictions, including the suspension of the vaccine pass and the scrapping of mask rules.
READ MORE How has France relaxed its Covid rules?
Some feel that the loosening of the rules is too soon.
“All of this feels too soon to me,” tweeted one of our readers.
“I reckon we’ll be back wearing masks before Easter,” replied another.
All of this feels too soon to me. Numbers have been rising again, and they weren't down as low as they needed to be for previous relaxations even before that. https://t.co/rQtVavOBty
— Roly Peck 💙 (@rolypeck) March 14, 2022
The good news is that for now at least, admission into intensive care units due to Covid-19 is still falling after reaching unprecedented highs in mid-January during the fifth wave.
While Véran noted that this was an encouraging sign, he said that it was vital that health authorities remain “extremely vigilant.”
The lifting of restrictions has gone ahead as scheduled because intensive care unit capacity, which currently stands at 37 percent, is within the target limits set by the government.
“The improvement in hospitals and our high vaccine coverage lead us to carry on with the lifting of measures,” said Prime Minister Jean Castex on Saturday.
He called on the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions to continue wearing masks in busy indoor spaces.
France is not alone in experiencing such an uptick, with neighbouring countries like Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the UK all seeing mini-spikes of their own.