Angela Merkel says she will ‘miss Emmanuel Macron’
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As in numerous other countries across the continent, cases are rising steadily in France, although deaths remain relatively low. The Reuters Covid tracker shows more than 14,600 cases were reported on November 13 – the highest figure recorded since early September.
Olivier Véran told 20 Minutes: “The fifth wave is now hitting France.”
The Health Minister said this had been “delayed” by several weeks thanks to the large Covid vaccine take-up in France.
But he warned that the situation will get worse yet, with early modelling indicating a risk of more than “1,000 hospitalisations per day by January 2022”.
Mr Véran insisted that the remaining six million French citizens who have chosen not to receive a Covid vaccine must come forward and “protect themselves”.
He also suggested France could start vaccinating healthy young children against Covid, pending approval from European and then French medicines regulators.
He said: “The US and Israel have started vaccinating five to 11-year-olds, which will give us information on how it works in real life.
“The studies used by the US Drug Administration show that the vaccine in children is effective and safe.
“In the coming weeks, we expect the European Medicines Agency’s transparent, objective and exhaustive instruction. It will then be up to the French scientific authorities, probably by early 2022.”
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Asked whether a fifth Covid wave would inflict as much damage as those which have come before it, Mr Véran again emphasised the benefit of vaccination in protecting against “excess mortality”.
But he warned the epidemic wave could last all the way though December and even into early 2022, posing a “significant health impact” on France.
In September, around 3,000 French health workers were suspended for refusing to comply with the Covid vaccine mandate.
Before this, in July, President Emmanuel Macron announced the introduction of vaccine passport checks at restaurants, hospitals and shopping malls, and on trains and planes.
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Warnings of a fifth Covid wave are likely to spark fears that more restrictions on the unvaccinated could be on their way.
Mr Véran’s comments on increasing cases and hospitalisations follow Germany announcing plans to lock down 14 million unvaccinated citizens.
The incoming Germany Social Democratic Government has been accused of pushing for a “lockdown apartheid”.
Its plans will be presented to parliament for approval on Thursday.
In the UK, pressure group Independent Sage has also called for tougher restrictions to be imposed, insisting the Government’s winter ‘Plan B’ should be enforced right away.
This would see the introduction of vaccine passports, along with the re-introduction of face mask mandates and work from home guidelines.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.
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