COVID-19

France says Omicron to be dominant variant soon, resists new restrictions

Reuters
France says Omicron to be dominant variant soon, resists new restrictions

FILE PHOTO. Passengers arrive at the Eurostar terminal at Gare du Nord train station, amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Paris, France December 23, 2020.

Benoit Tessier/Reuters

The French government is counting on an accelerated vaccine booster program to keep the virus in check

France could soon see 100,000 new COVID-19 cases a day due to the rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, but the government does not plan to introduce new restrictions for the time being, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Wednesday, December 22.

President Emmanuel Macron is counting on an accelerated vaccine booster program to keep the virus in check. Veran said he expected that up to 23 million booster doses will have been administered by Christmas, up from 20 million as of Wednesday.

“The objective is not to reduce the speed of the virus’ spread because the variant is too contagious. The objective is to limit the risk of serious cases overwhelming hospitals,” Veran told BFM TV. “This is why we are moving fast on booster shots.”

Omicron has sparked a divided response in Europe.

Germany, Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands are among countries that have reimposed partial or full lockdowns or other social distancing measures. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would not introduce new COVID-19 curbs in England before Christmas, but warned he might need to act afterwards.

France is reporting about 70,000 coronavirus infections a day as it battles a fifth wave of the epidemic.

The Omicron variant will be the dominant strain of the virus in France by early January, Veran said.

France has for months required a health pass for people to enter bars, restaurants, museums and other entertainment venues. In recent days, it has closed night clubs and canceled New Year’s Eve firework displays.

However, Veran said there were no plans at this stage for further restrictions or an extension of school holidays, though he cautioned nothing could be ruled out.

France registered a 210 COVID-19 deaths in hospitals on Monday, December 20, taking the country’s total death toll to 94,913. – Rappler.com